Conor McGregor has gone a long way from the first time we saw him. No, we’re not just talking of how big a superstar he’s become. We’re saying that physically, he is no longer the same guy who knocked out Jose Aldo last December. Just take a look at this:
Great split screen shot of Conor McGregor before he fought Jose Aldo and what he looks like now. pic.twitter.com/A50A6ua2N8
— Chamatkar Sandhu (@SandhuMMA) March 3, 2016
It’s not just the shaved head and the new family name tattoo across his chest. Here’s one more split screen image of Mystic Mac:
Okay so he had to go big because he was set to fight at 155 on Saturday. Then 11 days before UFC 196, Rafael Dos Anjos got injured and McGregor chose to fight Nate Diaz at 170 pounds just to save UFC 196 from being cancelled for the second consecutive month. It doesn’t matter why McGregor chose Diaz over the other candidates nor does it matter if it was he who requested for the fight to be set a 170. The fact is that Conor McGregor, who won the featherweight title in December 2015, will be moving up two weight classes for his next bout.
McGregor has looked every bit spectacular for UFC 196. His physique has bulked up but during the open workouts earlier this week, McGregor’s movements look as fluid as ever:
The question though is whether those things will translate to yet another dominant performance on Saturday night. We’ve seen McGregor blow past the opposition he’s faced in the UFC so far and that includes knocking out Jose Aldo in just 13 seconds. He’s 7-0 with 6 KOs inside the UFC Octagon with only Max Holloway going the distance with the Notorious One.
McGregor juggled between featherweight and lightweight when he was still with the CWFC but all of his UFC bouts have been exclusively fought at 145 pounds. Saturday was supposed to be the first of his two steps to greatness. Had he beaten Rafael Dos Anjos, he would’ve been the first fighter ever to hold two UFC titles simultaneously. Had he accomplished that, he would’ve attempted to go for a third title at UFC 200 by challenging Robbie Lawler for the welterweight title. If he beat Lawler, he would’ve been the first to ever win three different weight class titles in the UFC and the only one to hold three belts simultaneously. That would have been an unprecedented achievement and would have cemented McGregor’s status as the best fighter of this era and one of the greatest of All-time. With Dos Anjos hurt, step two has been fast forwarded to step three with McGregor saying the other day that challenging Robbie Lawler at UFC 200 is a big possibility if he beats Nate Diaz on Saturday.
First things first though. Conor McGregor has to get past the stubborn and pesky Nate Diaz. Diaz fought at welterweight from 2010-2011 and went 2-2 during that period. He was 1-3 in his last 3 bouts before coming up with a career reviving win over Michael Johnson last December 19.
But the big question is can McGregor carry his power to 170 pounds? Owen Roddy, Conor’s longtime striking coach says yes, without a doubt:
Conor walks around 80 kilos (177lbs) and he’d still cutting a bit at ’77’. Trust me, at that weight, he would still be knocking people out without a doubt. He’s hit very hard and punches way above his weight. He’s very, very accurate and those two things combined they are devastating.”
“He’s a workhorse and puts it in any way but, you can see when he fights at featherweight that he doesn’t quite have the same energy but for this camp, he’s faster, he’s bigger, he’s stronger and he’s in a happier place mentally. He just looks phenomenal buts I always say that every fight. He just seems to take it to the next level every time and become a way better version of himself.”
Conor McGregor looks phenomenal in his new physique and you’ve got to love his confidence. But as to whether he will be as dominant as he has been in his UFC career, that will be answered once he trades the first punches with Nate Diaz. We’ll probably know also how big he can get in this sport, both inside and outside of the Octagon.