Conor McGregor made his pro debut 7 years ago, we look at each fight of a notorious career 4 years ago

Conor McGregor made his pro debut 7 years ago, we look at each fight of a notorious career

Time flies when you're having fun.

That explains why we're not too surprised at how quickly the years have passed since Conor McGregor's first professional mixed martial arts bout.

2008

The debut - March 8th

What would have been if the pre-fight jitters got too much for Conor McGregor that night? Would he have folded into obscurity like all the other "almost made it" fighters? Or would he have made his debut in 2009, 2010 or 2011 when it might have been a little too late to set up a truly impactful mixed martial arts career? Who knows?

What we do know is that the 19-year-old McGregor didn't succumb to the smothering pressure of wrapping your hands for the first time with a paycheck waiting for you at the end of the evening.

No video exists of the Conor McGregor v Gary Morris but "The Notorious" got his pro career off to a winning start after taking the back of "The Dumptruck" in the second round and flattening him out before finishing with hard punches to the side of Morris' head and all of a sudden, there was a new prospect on the horizon for Irish mixed martial arts.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3VHkNxmbvR8

2-0 - May 3rd

The teenager wasted no time to return to the cage and he picked up some much needed momentum just seven weeks removed from his TKO victory over Gary Morris at Cage of Truth 2.

Cage Rage was the promotion that handed McGregor his second pro fight and he kept his winning record going after he finished Mo Taylor in the first round which made most European featherweights raise their eyebrows at this up-and-coming Dublin contender.

Setback - June 28th

Overeagerness could be one way of explaining Conor McGregor's first professional loss.

The keenness to fight as often as possible led to "The Notorious" accepting his third fight in just 16 weeks as he was matched up against Lithuanian submission expert Artemij Sitenkov.

And the eagerness of McGregor to want to punish Sitenkov when the 5-4 featherweight pulled guard led to his downfall.

McGregor put too much onus on ground-and-pound and failed to protect himself as Sitenkov's cinched up a kneebar and got the tap from the Irishman after just 30 seconds of the first round.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cUNSkuZKMXk

Bounce back - December 12th

It never ceases to amaze me how many promising fighters retire from the game with just a 2-1 record. There's something about tasting defeat, especially getting finished, that crushes the confidence of young mixed martial artists beyond repair.

But McGregor is not one such fighter.

His next fight came at KO -The Fight Before Christmas and "The Notorious" came out of the traps like a man possessed as he opened up with a flying knee against Stephen Bailey before dropping him with a short left hook.

The referee had seen enough after 30 seconds of relentless ground-and-pound from mount and, before he knew it, McGregor was back.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CwG1QQHzgf4&list=TLCsqM9umQqaY

2009

Layoff

McGregor took the whole of 2009 off from professional competition as he honed his technique at Straight Blast Gym under the tutelage of Ireland's first BJJ black belt John Kavanagh.

But the 20-year-old got his first glimpse into the world of his future employer when he attended UFC 93 in Dublin where he met UFC heavyweight Pat Barry.

2010

The return - October 9th

After almost two full years out of action, McGregor's comeback came against Connor "Done Deal" Dillon in Chaos Fighting Championships.

Dillon looked dangerous in the first half of the opening round as he spent well over a minute threatening with a guillotine from half-guard.

But when the referee stood the fighters back up, Dillon looked completely gassed and started to get picked apart on the feet before appearing to injure himself in an exchange, prompting his corner to throw in the towel.

Video via SevereMMA

Last Loss - November 27th

After going 4-1 in the beginning of his career, McGregor was given the chance to shine by Europe's biggest MMA promotion Cage Warriors.

His promotional debut was seen as a significant step-up in competition as he was paired up with the undefeated Donegal fighter Joseph Duffy who was just coming off a victory over another impressive prospect, Norman Parke.

McGregor moved up to lightweight for this bout and started out looking the more comfortable on the feet but, when attacking with a guillotine, he failed to pre-empt the counter of an arm-triangle and was forced to tap after some fast thinking on the part of "Irish Joe" in what was Conor's last loss to date.

2011

Streak starter - February 12th

McGregor began a 13-fight winning streak over four years ago when he faced rear-naked choke specialist Hugh Brady at Chaos Fighting Championships 8.

A beautiful improvement in the game of the Dubliner came by way of the fact that he responded to every instruction yelled at him by John Kavanagh to the point where it was almost like his head coach was treating "The Notorious" like a video game character.

When Kavanagh saw an opening, he'd alert McGregor to it and his student would duly oblige with a technique to take advantage of it.

Conor's boxing looked on point that night and Brady had no answer for McGregor's crisp left hand which landed at will throughout the first round.

And when the 22-year-old had Brady obviously worrying about the frequently-thrown left, he mixed it up by faking it before landing a picture perfect right uppercut which was the beginning of the end and led McGregor right back to the win column.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Swp9VXkYIVc

Untouchable - March 12th

Gaining a reputation for his finishing ability, "The Notorious" didn't even have to defend a punch from Englishman Mike Wood.

The opening bell rang and it took less than ten McGregor punches to force the contest to an end.

It was a vicious left uppercut to the grounded Wood which started his demise as the punching power of McGregor became something for all in his weight class to take note of.

Quick as ya like - April 16th

If you thought McGregor's 16 second TKO of Mike Wood was fast, then you'll really be impressed by his next victory.

"The Notorious" recorded his most time-efficient fight to date against Paddy Doherty when he needed just four seconds from bell to bell.

McGregor faked with the jab before stepping back and whipping a left uppercut to Doherty's jaw which had the Northern Ireland native wondering what day it was.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ySTXmKDgkE

Well rounded - June 11th

As fun as those quick first round knockouts are, it often takes more than a round of action to really get a sense how far a fighter has come and McGregor truly showed off every element of his MMA arsenal in his fight against Artur Sowinski.

In the first round of their Celtic Gladiator encounter, McGregor showed off flashy striking, wrestling and supreme submission defence as he thrilled the Laois crowd.

Poland's Sowinski didn't make it out of the second though as McGregor landed a looping left hook which dropped "Kornik."

"The Notorious" proceeded to treat Sowinski's guard like it was a non-issue as he passed at will before forcing the referee to wave the contest off with a series of undefended shots from mount.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tIGAv7uuNd4

Cage control - September 8th

McGregor showed off some unbelievable power for a 145lber in his return to the Cage Warriors promotion as he took on Norwegian lightweight Aaron Jahnsen.

But it was McGregor who looked the stronger man when he dominated the first round, controlling where the fight took place and looking as comfortable as could be in the cage.

The Irishman looked far more experienced than an 8-2 fighter when he opted to tire out Jahnsen, who had just underwent a tough weight-cut, by clinching with the Norwegian against the fence.

Midway through the round when Jahnsen looked to be gassing, McGregor picked up the pace and used brutal ground-and-pound to earn his fifth consecutive TKO victory.

2012

Muay Thai masterclass - February 18th

In 2011, McGregor had garnered the reputation as one of the most active European fighters as he competed a staggering five times.

But he took almost five months off ahead of his bout against Steve O'Keefe in London.

"The Notorious" exhibited no ring rust though and, after touching gloves, he showed off his high defensive guard which has become a mainstay of his striking game that we know today.

He put on a vicious display of Muay Thai against O'Keefe, punishing the English fighter with powerful knees from the outset.

McGregor also appeared dominant in the grappling department against O'Keefe as he refused to be held down by any of O'Keefe's takedowns and fought off the arm triangle with little difficulty.

The Dubliner finished with a highlight reel TKO as he rained down a series of thunderous elbows which forced O'Keefe to drop.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=myj864DW3Eg

Title shot - June 2nd

Conor McGregor had come an awful long way from his first showing under the Cage Warriors banner, when he was submitted by Joseph Duffy.

He had just gone 2-0 with the promotion, with both victories coming in the first round, and was duly rewarded with a shot at the Cage Warriors featherweight title.

MMA pundits had given the striking advantage to Conor McGregor ahead of his 145lb decider against Dave Hill while Hill was expected to dominate the grappling exchanges.

Up to this point in his career, McGregor primarily used his boxing to punish opponents but, against Hill, his kicking game appeared to have come on leaps and bounds as he mixed it up between body and head which showed how confident he was in defending any takedown attempt from Hill.

"The Notorious" took the first round easily and he finished off his opponent in the second with the only submission victory of his career, a stunning rear naked choke, to earn the first title of his career.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aCLqGQX4nNA

Doubling up - December 31st

Not content to settle for 145lb glory, Conor opted to make the move to lightweight to attempt to capture the 155lb strap.

It looked a daunting task for the Irishman as he prepared to faced a vastly more experienced competitor in Ivan Buchinger on New Year's Eve at CWFC 51.

But "The Notorious" was making a habit out of making difficult fights look easy and he finished Buchinger with arguably his sweetest finish to date.

After backing up the Slovakian from the opening bell, McGregor displayed a change from his norm (boxing with a bit of Muay Thai thrown in) by exhibiting a more Karate-based style, with some flashy Capoeira techniques for good measure.

It was a pinpoint left straight that finished Buchinger off and, all of a sudden, McGregor had two world titles to his name, as well as a beautiful walkaway KO.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oyvFy0fvP4U

 2013

The big show - April 6th

Touted as the European fighter who could make waves on the global scale, McGregor finally received the phonecall from Dana White which paved the way for his UFC debut.

For his first fight with the promotion he was pitted against Marcus Brimage, a recognisable name for fans of The Ultimate Fighter season 14.

McGregor looked a seasoned veteran as he entered the octagon for the first time and needed just a minute to back up the hype.

The Irishman announced himself on the world stage with a striking exhibition against Brimage, landing a succession of uppercuts which wobbled the knees of the TUF veteran before finishing with some ground-and-pound to put an exclamation point on his stunning entrance statement.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OpAC2JOJiXM

The head of steam - August 17th

The time between the Brimage fight and his next is as significant as any actual fight in the context of Conor's overall career as this was when the tidal wave of support began gathering behind the Irishman.

McGregor's second fight with the UFC was seen as a battle for supremacy of two of the roster's most up-and-coming, young fighters as he was tasked with facing Hawaiian prospect Max Holloway.

The Dubliner's entrance is as memorable as the fight itself as the production crew dimmed the lights, an honour which is usually reserved for main events and title fights, proving how special a fighter they considered "The Notorious."

The fight would turn out to be bittersweet for McGregor as, despite the victory, he tore his ACL which ruled him out of competition for almost a year.

But one massive benefit from the contest came in the fact that McGregor was able to show his offensive wrestling.

Unable to strike as fluidly due to his injured knee, "The Notorious" outgrappled Holloway en route to a decision victory, the first and only one of his seven year career.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DHJcARZrgao

2014

The homecoming - July 19th

Inarguably the biggest night in the history of mixed martial arts in Ireland came last summer when the UFC made its long awaited return to Conor McGregor's homeland.

Irish and honorary Irish fighters littered the card with McGregor's teammates Paddy Holohan, Cathal Pendred and Gunnar Nelson all claiming victories on the night, to add to the TKO win of Belfast lightweight Norman Parke.

Facing his first UFC main event after a year lay-off with the pressure of all the other domestic fighters having won would have been too much for a lot of other athletes to deal with.

But McGregor did not wilt for a moment in his first round obliteration of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Diego Brandao.

He found his range early and punished Brandao when the Brazilian rushed in before McGregor connected with a vicious left hand towards the end of the opening round which put the TUF product down.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w9vo0TbUXSc

The real deal - September 27th

Sure Conor McGregor was 11 fights undefeated and 3-0 with the UFC but, to be fair, none of his opponents had been at the level that you could honestly call world class.

That changed when he was given the chance to take on top five competition when he met Dustin Poirier at UFC 178.

A lot of pros felt that this would be the make or break moment in the career of McGregor because, even if he was to win, at least Poirier would test him.

Well Poirier didn't really test him and the bout went the way that Conor predicted.

"The Diamond" struggled with McGregor's punching power from the beginning and it was just a grazing shot that put the American on the mat before McGregor forced the stoppage with strikes on the ground.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qDEIG3cu-ac

2015

Cementing his reputation - January 18th

After demolishing Poirier, it was almost universally recognised that McGregor deserved the next shot at Jose Aldo's featherweight title.

That made it even stranger to find out the UFC had set up a fight between "The Notorious" and Dennis Siver, a veteran of the promotion who was actually ranked lower than Poirier.

But McGregor accepted the fight and treated it as a way of proving his place at the summit of the featherweight division.

McGregor was as high as a 1/10 favourite over the German according to the oddsmakers and he backed up that price by coasting to a second round victory.

Siver never looked like he belonged in there with the Irishman and was mercifully put out of his misery by referee Herb Dean after McGregor began hammering down elbows and punches from mount.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qlDq_e1ZB-U

The pinnacle - July 11th

After the Siver fight, McGregor leapt over the fence to confront UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo, who was sitting cageside.

The title shot was his.

Conor McGregor jumps Octagon

It's Ireland v Brazil in Las Vegas, Nevada come the summer when the 145lb title will be contested by two fighters who haven't tasted defeat in a combined 31 bouts.

It promises to be one of the fights of the year and, if McGregor is successful, he will become the first Irishman wear a UFC belt.

It could be just a matter of four short months until we're hearing Bruce Buffer bellow "And the NEW UFC featherweight champion of the world .... THE NOTORIOUS Conor McGregor."

And if McGregor's future is anything like the journey he's taken us on thus far, we're in for one hell of a ride.