Mixed martial arts has long passed the point where it must struggle to survive. Thanks to the efforts of the UFC, and countless other promotions who sacrificed blood, sweat and capital to make a mark in the landscape, fighting in the cage is here to stay. But while MMA won’t be dying anytime soon, it does need one thing to thrive, and that one thing is a star. So…
…THANK GOD FOR CONOR MCGREGOR.
At last night’s UFC Fight Night 59, we got to see the vaunted Irishman dismantle Dennis Siver – an opponent everyone knew was over-matched and doomed as hell once the Octagon door shut and McGregor did his thing. And afterwards, it was announced – as expected – that he would be facing Jose Aldo for the belt at a future date, a move that has him skipping over a bunch of worthy lightweights who are ahead of McGregor in the rankings (lightweights who’d likely beat McGregor). But the outrage over this instance of someone cutting the line has kind of petered out. Why? Because though half of McGregor’s charm is his ability to wreck dudes, the other half is penchant for doing stuff like this:
You know what those antics have done? They’ve made a match between the upstart Irishman and the calm, cool and collected champ some serious must-see TV. Now people will actually give a crap about an event headlined by featherweights, will actually tune in to see if McGregor has what it takes to defeat the best or, at the very least, tune in to see his big mouth get shut with a quickness.
McGregor has made it cool to care about 145-pound fighters.
Frankie Edgar said it best on the FOX Sports Live postfight show: “Conor’s bringing excitement to the division. All of us need to thank him. I don’t want to thank him for taking my title shot, but he’s earned it.”
For that, McGregor is without question the featherweight division’s most valuable player. Believe that.