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The Conor McGregor thread 2.0


David
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Buckle in kids, this is going to be a long one! There's a TL;DR conclusion at the bottom.

As most who have posted here on the reg the past five or six years will know, I've never really bought into the Conor McGregor hype as much as some have.

I never really bought into the myth of "the big left hand." I found it absolutely ridiculous that some actually believed he'd trouble Floyd Mayweather much less actually beat him. 

I've always seen McGregor as a borderline top 5 lightweight at best, and someone who has received more than any other fighter the benefit of preferential fight booking. 

After his loss to Poirier, it's been all but confirmed. But it's always interesting to look at the facts. And the facts tell me that McGregor's biggest asset in his MMA career isn't the big left hand or his much-revered mental strength.

It was his ability to seemingly kill himself to reach 145lbs then rehydrate himself enough to compete the next day. He was and is incredibly well-versed in making and cutting weight.

Most of his career highlights come at 145lbs, where he went 7-0 with big wins over Aldo, Mendes, Poirier and Holloway. 

It was here that his legendary punching power and ability to pick opponents off was born, but there's a reason for that in my opinion.

McGregor is 5'9 and has a reach of 74 inches. 

Let's look at his 145lbs opponents:

Marcus Brimmage - 5'4 and 71 inch reach

Max Holloway - 5'11 and a shockingly t-rexesque 69 inch reach.

Diego Brandao - 5'7 and a 69 inch reach

Dustin Poirier - 5'9 and a 72 inch reach

Dennis Siver - 5'6 and 70 inch reach

Chad Mendes - 5'6 and a 66 inch reach

Jose Aldo - 5'7 and a 70 inch reach

McGregor was a huge featherweight. And I'm not saying this to diminish his accomplishment at the weight, because the truth is he made the weight every time and as such he's legit. But back then you could see that he towered over most of his opponents, and his reach was longer than every fighter he faced in the division. 

That he went on to fight at welterweight and not look like he was carrying any extra fat as you may have expected from someone jumping up 25lbs tells its own story. Could you imagine if Jose Aldo made a move to 170lbs? Diego Brandao? Chad Mendes? 

McGregor went into his 145lbs fights with huge physical advantages. 

Two fights with Nate Diaz followed, both at welterweight with Diaz looking flabby around the middle. The dude is a top ten lightweight, and doesn't belong at 170lbs.

In both fights we were told all about the big left hand, the sniper-like finishing that Conor was capable of. 

Despite not being a top five lightweight, never mind a proper welterweight, we saw Nate take those big shots and submit McGregor in the first, and lose a decision in the second.

The move to 155lbs was always going to be interesting, as it would tell us if his power and ability to pick men off would translate when facing opponents just as long, who had power, and who could take a shot from a bigger man.

And to be honest, the jury is still out on that. At 155lbs McGregor is 1-2, and while his win over Eddie Alvarez was a good one, I felt at the time he was the beneficiary of a bout against what could be considered the weaker of the recent lightweight champions. Even if McGregor hadn't come into the equation I didn't see Eddie reigning long. 

I certainly did not favour McGregor to beat RDA, who he was originally scheduled to face. I had that fight pegged as ending up similar to the Khabib fight with RDA grinding McGregor down and eventually subbing him late into the fight.

Next up was Khabib, who at 5'10 and someone who walked around at over 170lbs normally was a fighter of similar stature to McGregor and someone who could likely fight at welterweight if they wanted to.

Again, the big left hand was touted. And again, we saw McGregor land clean but unlike the 145lbs opponents, the bigger man didn't crumple and fall. We even saw Khabib drop Conor.

He looked good once again at welterweight against Cerrone, but I think Cerrone is a washed up fighter at this stage. It was a good win, but nothing to boast about for any top five lightweight in the company. It's the kind of win you'd fully expect from any lightweight fighter ranked 5-7 or so.

And now we've seen Poirier beat Conor after once again the big left hand being touted. it didn't amount to much. 

Conclusion: McGregor's power, size and reach haven't translated to a bigger weight class where his opponents are of equal or greater size. His ability to cut to 145lbs was insane, and it was that edge that saw him forge his reputation. But at lightweight he's just another guy with a decent amount of power, bog-standard non-US fighter levels of grappling, and a below average gas tank.

In short, he's probably going to flit around the top five or so at best.

I think he's dangerous when he faces anyone who is shorter in height and reach as it allows him to pick them apart from the outside, but there's less guys that applies to in the 155lbs division. Not to mention that 155lbs fighters are more able to take a decent shot than a 145lbs fighter.

That's two fights in Khabib and Dustin where everyone spoke of Conor being dangerous early and how him catching you clean meant curtains. Both times he caught his opponent clean early and both times fuck all happened. They took the shots and kept coming.

I only see Conor putting together a serious title run if he managed to drop back to 145lbs, and I don't know if he's even capable of that these days. 

But, who would bet against him if he was facing the likes of the 5'6 Volkanovski? Or Brian Ortega? Or in a rematch with Holloway? 

At 155lbs he's never getting anywhere near that title again, even with uncle Dana's preferential fight booking.

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One of the Fight Site's writers thinks that McGregor changed his style a bit after the first Diaz loss. In that fight, he was smashing Diaz with the same explosive style he used at featherweight, but couldn't quite put the bigger man away. He tried to force the stoppage, which led to him gassing, getting caught, and then eventually submitted. After that fight, he changed his style a bit so that he wouldn't gas out. The writer argued that while McGregor ran through Alvarez at lightweight, he did so with a more measured approach than he used to take out top contenders at featherweight. 

So yeah, McGregor is probably a bit more explosive (and better) at featherweight. By contrast, however, Poirier is a better lightweight than he was a featherweight. So you can make the argument that the two have never fought one other while both were at their absolute peak. 

McGregor's defensive grappling is a bit underrated actually. He defended well against Poirier this past weekend in the first frame, performed a nice sweep on Diaz in their first outing, and managed to control Khabib in the first round of their bout.

Overall, he'll probably win some and lose some against the top contenders at 155lbs. 

Edited by jimufctna24
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12 minutes ago, jimufctna24 said:

Overall, he'll probably win some and lose some against the top contenders at 155lbs. 

I think he's always going to be hovering around the 4-5 mark as far as rankings go though. At best.

Funnily enough, I actually think he'd beat Michael Chandler. That's possibly the only guy at the top I'd give him the nod against at the moment.

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What confuses me is that he was able to knockout Dustin at FW but landed clean at LW and didn't hurt him. The weight cut for Dustin to FW was enough to weaken his chin that much? We're also talking about a younger Dustin who had less miles on the clock and therefore, logically, a better chin than he does now. What evidence is there that Dustin had a particularly extreme cut to FW? Did he ever miss weight in that division? Visually, he never appeared to be that dehydrated on the scales. Not, say, compared to Mcgregor.

Edited by Chunk
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3 minutes ago, Chunk said:

What confuses me is that he was able to knockout Dustin at FW but landed clean at LW and didn't hurt him. The weight cut for Dustin to FW was enough to weaken his chin that much? We're also talking about a younger Dustin who had less miles on the clock and therefore, logically, a better chin than he does now. What evidence is there that Dustin had a particularly extreme cut to FW? Did he ever miss weight in that division? Visually, he never appeared to be that dehydrated on the scales. Not, say, compared to Mcgregor.

I don't think it's so much the weight cut as Poirier is now a naturally bigger guy. Not to mention that he's more skilled in slipping punches and moving with the shots that he was back then. 

But McGregor's much-talked about power isn't as much of a factor at 155lbs as it was at 145lbs against smaller opponents.

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The in-cage weight of Conor in that fight against Diego Brandao, where he looked like death weighing in, probably wasnt that much off what he weighed in at in the cage against Poirier on the weekend. Hes clearly not going to the extremes he did back in the old days, so Id say youre right that hes not having any sort of physical advantage any more. Hes probably now cutting the same weight as all the guys hes fighting, and probably cant add any more muscle (naturally) to his frame, so physically can never do the insane weight cut for 155, even if he wanted to try and do it.

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28 minutes ago, Chunk said:

What confuses me is that he was able to knockout Dustin at FW but landed clean at LW and didn't hurt him. The weight cut for Dustin to FW was enough to weaken his chin that much? We're also talking about a younger Dustin who had less miles on the clock and therefore, logically, a better chin than he does now. What evidence is there that Dustin had a particularly extreme cut to FW? Did he ever miss weight in that division? Visually, he never appeared to be that dehydrated on the scales. Not, say, compared to Mcgregor.

DP cut 40 lbs to make the FW limit- https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:qMIbsHldSGoJ:https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/2021/01/22/poirier-body-ufc-257-preview/+&cd=14&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=uk

The process left him dizzy and depleted. His current conditioning coach thinks he is far more durable at 155lbs. 

DP has also progressed as a fighter since moving to 155lbs, as this video details:

 

Edited by jimufctna24
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26 minutes ago, David said:

But McGregor's much-talked about power isn't as much of a factor at 155lbs as it was at 145lbs against smaller opponents.

Yeah, I'm not really commenting on or disputing that. My point was about Dustin because of the unique way we can compare 145 and 155 Mcgregor hitting him.

Quote

I don't think it's so much the weight cut as Poirier is now a naturally bigger guy. Not to mention that he's more skilled in slipping punches and moving with the shots that he was back then. 

Does being bigger give you a better chin? Being bigger through not cutting weight ... that makes sense. So, yeah, like I said, I guess we have to put it down to Dustin being more resilient when he hasn't been through a weight cut. The fact that resilience means the difference between being knocked out or not (by the same person hitting you) is interesting to me.

Edit: That adds some sense to it, yeah, @jimufctna24. I also literally just finished the post fight presser and Dustin says there that some of the shots Mcgregor landed did significant damage. He says a follow up to the big left Conor landed would've had him in real trouble. So, yeah, the difference in not cutting that weight appears to be the difference between getting hurt and getting knocked out.

Edited by Chunk
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Not that it causes people to get knocked out, but I thought it insightful when Poirier discussed that he saw McGregor as just another opponent this time, rather than letting the hype and talk hinder him like last time. He felt looser and less in awe of fighting McGregor. That in itself is an indication of how far Poirier has come and how McGregor has slipped.

Anyway, David summed it up nicely with regards to McGregor's power. He's fighting bigger dudes that are used to getting hit harder, without question, but I'd also say he's fighting much better fighters now. I think even McGregor has played down his power when he talked about it being more about precision and timing. 

Edited by ColinBollocks
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Good post David. It struck me on second viewing of the fight yesterday how different he looked from the featherweight version in terms of his stance, movement and footwork as well as the stuff you mention. I think a lot of that has to do with his obsession with becoming a celebrity boxer as well as the weight. He looked a bit like one of those "stuck in the mud, stiff as a board lightweights" he mocked at that Vegas press conference a few years back. I think the Conor of those days slips in and out of range of the low kick with ease, rather than foolishly trying to check them. He seems to have abandoned the hand fighting too, which was a big part of his success early I think. It will be interesting to see if he makes the adjustments or just goes onto boxing YouTubers. I can't see him ever going back to Featherweight now, it would kill him and he already looks about 40 in his face.

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Yeh there's no chance of him going back to 145lb. It shocked me Saturday when they reminded us that it was only Conor's 3rd fight at 155lb in the UFC though.

For a round Saturday i thought McGregor looked good, but in round 2 he seemed a different man. I think it was a combination of fatigue, damage to the leg and mentally realising that the fight wasnt gonna go his way. Conor's a tremendous frontrunner but if things aren't going well he wilts and you could argue even finds a way out. Problem he has is that the top end of 155lb is full of fighters known for their durability and willingness to go through hell to win. Conor doesn't appear to have the suds on him to beat these guys if it goes beyond a round/round and a half.

 Im not really sure where he goes from here though if they are primarily looking to give him a favourable style matchup. 

Edited by Egg Shen
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8 hours ago, Egg Shen said:

I think it was a combination of fatigue, damage to the leg and mentally realising that the fight wasnt gonna go his way.

I think the damage to the leg was the biggest factor, along with Poirier's improved durability. 

ATT fighters know how to land a decent calf kick. It took 5 calf kicks for Horiguchi to completely decimate Asakura's lead leg last month. I didn't count how many Poirier landed clean on McGregor, but I will assume it was similar.

It only takes a few of those kicks, especially if the fighter is heavy on his lead leg, to massively hinder an opponent. 

This is what Poirier said after the fight:

Quote

‚ÄúEven when he started checking, he wasn‚Äôt contacting with the shin, like a small rotation more, I would‚Äôve been paying for those kicks, but I was still getting the muscle of his leg and that part of your leg and muscle is so small and thin that you can‚Äôt take many shots there. After the second leg kick, I knew he was hurting.‚ÄĚ

 

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Apparently Conor is saying he want's the Dustin trilogy fight straight away which I think is wrong and not the right move to make. 
After this past weekend Dustin has worked his bollocks off and deserves to fight for the vacant title next whoever that is against. 
If Conor thinks that the trilogy fight with Dustin is bigger and better matchup than the Nate Diaz trilogy fight we have all been waiting for 3/4 years now then he is more mental than I even gave him credit for.

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McG clearly hasn't realised just how much his star has fallen if he thinks he can get a trilogy fight with Poirier. In previous years, I'm sure Plastic Caesar would've been all over that, but now he sees the writing on the wall and realises that McG is just not worth the return any more, given the infrequency with which fights, and how much he appears to be on the slide.

The Diaz fight is the one to make. And I know I'm getting predictable in saying this, but it shows just how much of a waste it was to let him go, but Anthony Pettis would've been a fun matchup too. McGregor vs. Hooker might not be a bad idea either.

Furthermore, at first I didn't agree with Poirier about Chandler "just coming in" and having not earned a shot, as I thought it was unfair to ignore his Bellator record, but on mature reflection, I rather see his point. So Chandler vs. McG might also be a decent option.

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