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05th Dec 2016

Andy Lee makes a great case for Conor McGregor to win sportsperson of the year

The boxer, as always, spoke a lot of sense...

Robert Redmond

It’s that time of the year again when the RTE and the BBC hand out their sports person of the year award.

Andy Murray seems certain to win the British award, but the Irish field is a bit more open.

The nominees for the RTE award, due to be given out on December 17, are:

Eoghan Clifford (Cycling), Seamus Callanan (Hurling), Daryl Horgan (Football), Katie-George Dunlevy and Eve McCrystal (Cycling), Brian Fenton (Gaelic Football), Carl Frampton (Boxing), Denise Gaule (Camogie), Jamie Heaslip (Rugby), Annalise Murphy (Sailing), Conor McGregor (MMA), Paul O’Donovan (Rowing), Brid Stack (Gaelic Football).

Picking a winner is tricky. For a start, how do you accurately measure achievements across different sports? Each nominee achieved excellence in their respective field, but the context of victory is different for each sport.

Andy Lee, speaking on Newstalk on Sunday afternoon, said he isn’t one to take these type of awards too seriously, but when asked who should claim the award for 2016 he made a very clear, concise case for Conor McGregor.

UFC 205: Alvarez v McGregor

“”I wouldn’t know about the UFC as a whole, because I don’t really watch a lot of it, (I’m a) big fan of Conor McGregor in terms of what he’s done as a person and, like you said, he’s crossed over, he’s a cultural phenomenon” the Limerick boxer said.

“Look, he’s a young guy from county Dublin, not so long ago he was on the dole, and now he’s making millions and millions.”

“As an Irishman, he carries the flag into the ring and I have to take my hat off to him and say ‘I respect everything you’re doing’.

“If he was applying the same acumen in anything else, like business, you would be tipping your hat to him we’d all be lauding him. So, yeah definitely, sports personality of the year, Conor McGregor.”

The former WBO middleweight world champion was also, inevitably, asked about McGregor being granted a boxing licence for the state of California.

Lee called McGregor “probably the best boxer in the UFC,” but reckons that the Dubliner’s boxing skills wouldn’t be as effective in the boxing ring as they are in the octagon.

UFC 205: Weigh-ins

“The videos I’ve seen of him sparring, to me, technically, it’s not top level,” Lee said.

“He can fight, he’s good with his hands, but in terms of boxing, it’d be interesting to see if you could win an Irish professional title. That wouldn’t be the highest standard in the world, but it’d be an interesting level.”

Lee added that the reason why boxing skills aren’t as high in MMA is partly because of the number of fighting disciplines required for the sport.