On April 6th, 2013, "The Notorious" Conor McGregor made his UFC debut, and the rest, as we know, is history. It's amazing to think that everything that Conor McGregor has accomplished as the face of the UFC, has all been done in just four short years. It took McGregor all of a minute and seven seconds to knockout Marcus Brimage in his UFC debut, and he never looked back.
McGregor joined the UFC right after he had completed his promise of becoming a two-weight class champion in the Cage Warriors promotion. He won the promotions Lightweight belt in December of 2012, after already winning the Featherweight belt in June of the same year, and after that, he set his sights on the ultimate stage, with the ultimate goal - to become a two-weight class world champion in the UFC.
The Notorious' took the UFC by storm, and not just inside the cage, but out as well. In his second UFC fight, that came in August of 2013, McGregor faced a young Max Holloway, and for the first time in his professional career, the fight went to decision, but it was a lopsided unanimous decision where Conor McGregor was able to showcase his whole range of skills, against a great young opponent (Max is the current Interim Featherweight Champ). However, this fight proved to be more a step backwards for Conor McGregor's surging career, as he tore his ACL in the fight, and would sidelined for the next 10 months with the injury. However, his comeback was nothing short of incredible.
McGregor returned to the Octagon in July of 2014, where he dominated Diego Brandao in a first round TKO. His next fight was the biggest of his career thus far, as he faced Dustin Poirier in September of 2014 at UFC 178, and this fight was the coming out party for Conor McGregor's full on trash-talking game. He and Poirier traded verbal jabs for weeks, but when it came time to get into the cage, Poirier proved to be no match for The Notorious, as McGregor put him away after a shot to the temple just a minute and 46 seconds into the fight.
That Dustin Poirier fight was the first time I had seen a Conor McGregor fight, and I instantly became a fan. His next fight, against Dennis Siver came in January of 2015, and this is where Conor McGregor truly transformed into the icon that he is. Watching that fight live, I truly felt bad for Dennis Siver, as McGregor absolutely dominated every single second of the fight, and while Siver somehow miraculously survived the first round of the fight, he couldn't make it out of the first two minutes in round two. McGregor then set the arena into a frenzy when he jumped the fence on the Octagon and ran straight up to Jose Aldo in the front row (who was the current Featherweight champ) and began screaming and yelling like a madman.
The moment Conor McGregor jumped that fence, he became the King. He would then be scheduled for a title fight with Aldo for July of 2015, but when Aldo pulled out just a few weeks before the fight, Chad Mendes stepped in and the fight became an Interim title fight. Mendes proved to be the biggest threat to Conor McGregor yet, because Mendes was an elite wrestler of a caliber that McGregor had never faced. Chad Mendes did all he could to execute his game plan of taking Conor McGregor down and wearing him out with ground and pound, looking for a TKO or submission from the ground. When the first round ended and the bell rang, McGregor sat up from the canvas where Mendes had been dropping elbow after elbow, and smiled as big of a smile as possible right in Mendes' face, and this is where you could see that McGregor had no doubts he would still win this fight. After a similar second round, of McGregor dominating the standup and Mendes taking McGregor down and attempting to finish the fight there, Conor McGregor stood up with under 20 seconds in the 2nd round, and promptly demolished Mendes with a flurry of strikes. He finally had his first taste of UFC gold.
His fight with Jose Aldo would then be rescheduled, and as we all know, that fight lasted all of 13 seconds, and Conor McGregor was officially a UFC World Champion. He then took the long, winding detour in 2016, after trying to fight for the Lightweight belt, but when RDA pulled out, and Nate Diaz stepped in, possibly the most important moment in Conor McGregor's UFC career occurred - he lost. He then avenged his loss, looking deep inside himself and into the mirror, and then, finally going after the Lightweight belt in November against Eddie Alvarez, whom he embarrassed and toyed with, en route to becoming the first fighter in UFC history to hold two Championship belts simultaneously.
Love him or hate him, it truly doesn't matter. Conor McGregor picked up where Ronda Rousey left off as far as carrying the UFC brand, and took the sport to its highest point. Although he has ruffled the feathers of fighters, coaches, and fans, he has stayed true to himself and to his ways. Cocky in prediction, confident in preparation, and humble in victory or defeat, The Notorious is one of a kind.