Conor McGregor is the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s new golden goose.
So far, everything he’s touched has turned to gold. From his spinning back-kicks, to his sound bites, to his perfectly laced shoes and sparkling cufflinks, McGregor’s assent to the top of the UFC totem pole has been a mix of style, skill and personality that the UFC has never seen before.
And now, after just four fights in the biggest MMA league in the world, only Dennis Siver, a 36-year-old ranked 10th in the featherweight division, stands in McGregor’s path to a title fight with champion Jose Aldo and the gold belt he’s after.
Siver isn’t a tomato can. He’s been around the fight game for a long time and if nothing else, has a history of battling it out deep into the later rounds of fights. While he won’t roll over, he’s certainly been cast as the sacrificial lamb in this matchup and the odds for Sunday’s main event at UFC Fight Night 59 only serve to highlight that.
McGregor is currently set as a huge -982 favorite at Sports Interaction, down only slightly from -1035 earlier this week, but the fact of the matter is he’s an even bigger favorite among UFC brass than he is to oddsmakers.
Dana White, Lorenzo Fertitta and Co. desperately needs McGregor to win this fight. The organization has put all of its eggs in McGregor’s basket for the last year, hoping “Notorious” can hold up his end of the bargain. So far, everything has gone as planned and the dream of holding a title fight in front of 82,000 Dubliners at Croke Park remains intact.
McGregor is 4-0 in the UFC with three knockouts and is ranked fifth in the division. In doing so, he has become one of, if not the biggest draws, in the entire sport of MMA.
Granted, he probably has just as many sceptics as supporters at this point. Critics say without his clever quips and press conference theatrics he would be nowhere near a title fight. They insist McGregor hasn’t fought a true wrestler yet and that the UFC is hand-picking beatable opponents for him in an effort to balloon the McGregor brand. And they’re absolutely right. That’s exactly what the UFC has done and if you don’t understand why, you clearly don’t know the fight game.
When the UFC looks at Conor “Notorious” McGregor it sees pay-per-view buys and dollar signs and there’s nothing wrong with that.
He looks the look, talks the talk and then walks the walk into and out of the Octagon with his arm raised. After, everybody goes home and practices Scrooge McDuck backstrokes in vaults full of gold coins.
What’s so bad about that?
Coming off a terrible year of cancelled fights, positive drug tests and buckshots of bad publicity, why wouldn’t the UFC give McGregor every chance to be its next big superstar? McGregor is the bridge to Europe the UFC has always yearned for and what’s better is that he’s a featherweight – a division that casual fight fans have traditionally ignored. Now, love him or hate him, no one can ignore Conor McGregor and that’s just what the UFC needs. Well, that and a McGregor win on Sunday.
Otherwise, all that has glittered might just turn out to be fake gold.
No pressure, Mr. McGregor.