In the MMA arena, especially at Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), 2016 has Conor McGregor written all over itself. McGregor established himself as one of the all-time greats of UFC after being the first ever simultaneous two-division champion in the company’s history.
McGregor headed into 2016 after a record-breaking win against Jose Aldo at UFC 194. Not only did he become the first ever Irish-born champion of UFC, but he also bagged the record of the fastest ever UFC title fight as the bout lasted merely 13 seconds!
After being crowned the undisputed UFC Featherweight champion, McGregor set his sights upon the UFC Lightweight Championship and was scheduled to face Rafael dos Anjos at UFC 196. However, Rafael was forced to withdraw from the fight owing to an injury. Not willing to back away from a fight, McGregor decided to make his welterweight debut at the event against Nate Diaz.
At UFC 196, Conor had Nate where he wanted him to be, all bloodied up and reeling from stiff punches in the first round. But in a shocking turn of events, Nate came back in the second round and ultimately handed Conor his first ever UFC loss via a rear-naked choke submission. Their bout however, won the Fight of the Night award and both the fighters received bonuses worth $50,000.
McGregor was taken aback at the loss. Although, the Irish had very little time to prepare for the bout following Rafael’s withdrawal, it was the nature at which he was defeated that shocked the fans. During the press conference following the event, McGregor remarked,
This is the fight business. We win some, we lose some. I will never shy away from a challenge. I will never shy away from a defeat.
Their rematch at UFC 200 was postponed after Conor was unable to fulfill his media obligations for the fight and rescheduled to be held at UFC 202 at the welterweight division. At UFC 202, McGregor started the first round having a clear advantage over Nate but subsequently lost control of the bout in the second and third rounds. Nevertheless, he made a comeback in the fourth and fifth round and the bout ended with both men giving it all for the win.
In the end, Conor scored the victory after a majority decision by the judges. Their rematch won the Fight of the Night award once more as they both received bonuses worth $50,000 twice in a row. Following the bout, Conor told the media that everyone had written him off prior to the fight. However, he came back in style. UFC commentator Joe Rogan praised Conor’s approach to the fight saying that he fought with a smooth, smart game plan.
After setting the score straight with Nate Diaz, McGregor set his sights once again upon acquiring the second belt. On November 27, it was officially announced that he would face Eddie Alvarez for the UFC Lightweight Championship in UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden. Prior to the pay-per-view, Conor McGregor predicted that Eddie would barely make it to round 2 but not more than that.
He proved himself right as he beat Eddie via TKO in only 3:04 minutes. Conor dominated the bout and Eddie could not even register a single strike on Conor. This was Conor’s best fight following the one against Aldo. With this victory, McGregor became the first ever guy to hold two different weight-class belts at the same time in the history of UFC. He also won $50,000 for the Performance of the Night award.
McGregor featured thrice in pay-per-views in 2016. He won two Fight of the Night awards and one Performance of the Night award. He headlined all three pay-per-views that he participated in and UFC 202 was adjudged to be the highest selling UFC pay-per-view in the history, a record held by UFC 100 earlier.
Notwithstanding the records, what shines above everything is his resurgence following the loss at UFC 196. He showed his resilience and gritty attitude during the rematch against Nate at UFC 202 where he clawed back from the jaws of defeat. Furthermore, his sheer supremacy over Eddie Alvarez and the accuracy of his prediction proved why he is a class above everyone. Additionally, the fact that no other fighter has ever held two different weight-class belts simultaneously takes Conor to a different level above all the other UFC fighters.
Due to his inactivity at the Lightweight division, UFC has stripped McGregor off the title and promoted Jose Aldo as the champion. This speaks volumes of Conor’s dominance over the division since he defeated Aldo in just 13 seconds to win the title in the first place.
McGregor has dominated 2016. With all the accolades that he has received and the way he has dispatched his opponents, fans are eagerly waiting to see what’s next for the Notorious One. He has teased a third bout against Nate Diaz. Besides, he also expressed his desire for a third belt, something unprecedented in UFC history. Whatever Conor does, 2016 will truly be his year at MMA.
As we draw nearer to the end of 2016, only one name stands out from the rest of the UFC roster; and that is The Notorious Conor McGregor.