It was announced that former UFC two division Champion Conor McGregor will be stripped of his UFC lightweight belt in a couple weeks in order for Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov to compete for it on April 7th, in Brooklyn. Conor’s head coach John Kavanagh addressed the situation on a Facebook Live Q&A Session.
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In February 2013, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) announced that they had signed McGregor to a multi-fight contract. In joining, McGregor became only the second fighter from Ireland to compete for the company, following fellow SBG team member Tom Egan. On 6 April 2013, McGregor made his UFC debut against Marcus Brimage on the preliminary card of UFC on Fuel TV: Mousasi vs. Latifi. Brimage began the fight aggressively, meeting McGregor in the middle of the octagon before launching a flurry of strikes to push him back. McGregor, repeatedly throwing a counter left hand, found little success with his initial striking. After ascertaining that Brimage was susceptible to a snap kick directed at his chest and chin, McGregor began to employ a looping left hand uppercut, throwing every time Brimage would move forward into striking range. These uppercuts grounded Brimage shortly after McGregor started to use them. The bout was stopped 1:07 into the first round. The win also earned McGregor his first “Knockout of the Night” award.
McGregor was expected to face Andy Ogle on 17 August 2013 at UFC Fight Night 26, but Ogle pulled out of the bout citing an injury and was replaced by Max Holloway. McGregor bewildered Holloway with his unusual boxing technique, and his incorporation of a wide variety of taekwondo kicks, many of which are not used in MMA to a significant degree. McGregor was able to control the striking range by using long, non-committal low side kicks to Holloway’s knee and shin, and initiate combinations by leaping in with switch and bicycle kicks. When the fight was brought to the ground, McGregor maintained top control, performing various positional advances, and mitigating against his opponent’s offence on the ground.
McGregor won the fight by unanimous decision (30–27, 30–27, 30–26). Following the bout with Holloway, an MRI scan revealed that McGregor had torn his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) during the bout and would require surgery, keeping him out of action for up to ten months. The events surrounding McGregor’s fight with Holloway were the main focus of a documentary by Motive Television and SevereMMA.com for Raidió Teilifís Éireann in 2014, entitled “The Notorious”. On 9 March 2008, McGregor had his first professional MMA bout, as a lightweight, defeating Gary Morris with a second-round TKO. After McGregor won his second fight against Mo Taylor, he made his featherweight debut in a loss via submission against Artemij Sitenkov. After a victory at featherweight in his next bout against Stephen Bailey, McGregor contemplated a different career path before his mother contacted his coach John Kavanagh and reinvigorated him to continue pursuing mixed martial arts.
“I think regardless of what way it’s sold, I think it’s still going to be known who the champion is. I know that’s going to upset a lot of people, but there you go, that’s my opinion on it. If it happens that those guys fight each other, and if it happens for the belt, they’re both going to think to themselves, ‘I’ve got to beat Conor [McGregor] to be really seen as the champion.”