Yesterday's 'double champ': 3 yrs on from Conor McGregor's signature victory, it remains his most recent win
Two belts. Two weight classes. One brash, trash-talking Irishman. Three years ago. Conor McGregor backed up his furiously fast tongue when he KO’d Eddie Alvarez on November 12, 2016, to become the UFC's lightweight champion while simultaneously holding the featherweight championship.
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3 years ago today I became a multiple time, multiple-weight World champion at Madison Square Garden, New York City. What a moment in my life. To capture the double once. Wow! To do it twice. Lord have mercy 🙏 I often look at this second picture and imagine how trippy that view must be for my father. Looking up at his son after doing exactly shot for shot what I told him I would do. I even done it no hands the second time. I will credit hard work for this moment but it’s not just that. Hard work alone is not enough. We can all work hard for a minute. It’s the consistency to do it over and over and over again that will lead you to these iconic moments. Year after year of focused work! I worked hard my last two fights. No doubt. But without consistency, I fell short. All amazing and valuable lessons going forward on this journey that is Martial Life! Onwards we go... Happy Tuesday everyone.
The Notorious’ most glorious night in the octagon came when he dispatched Eddie Alvarez in the second round of a fight few picked him to win in the UFC 205 main event at Madison Square Garden.
After the fight, history-maker McGregor strutted around center stage like a proud peacock, his two belts wrapped around a Irish tricolor across his chest akin to feathers, and then took the time to address the crowd.
“I’d like to take this chance to apologize...to absolutely nobody. The double champ does what the fuck he wants!” McGregor bellowed down the mic, referring to having ruffled other figurative feathers of fellow fighters on the roster.
The brazen words of McGregor that night seem now a distant memory. The victory remains his most recent win. His titles have since been stripped due to inactivity, and his status in the sport has dipped considerably.
In the intervening years, McGregor underwent a forced hiatus from the sport which he had, through unrelenting self-promotion and meteoric rise through the division never before seen by the organization, conquered.
He made the crossover to boxing to provide Floyd Mayweather Jr. a simple 50th straight victory and in doing so become one of the richest sportsmen on the planet. The cash came at its own price, though, as he clocked up his second-straight loss and third in five fights since his shock loss to Nate Diaz.
The indestructible image of the McGregor bandwagon had began to wane since he seared through the featherweight division with seven straight UFC victories.
Although it was profitable, McGregor’s flirtation with boxing was only ever meant to be ephemeral and his return to the octagon was confirmed for October 2018. Ironically, the homecoming of the biggest name ever to grace the sport was to become the crowning moment for another UFC superstar in the making.
Dagestani Eagle Khabib Nurmagomedov had been eager to soar the same heights enjoyed by Dublin’s most charismatic export of the new millennium, and had bode his time until he could use the McGregor name to hoist his own into the sporting stratosphere.
Khabib would become a McGregor nemesis in the lead-up to and long after his fourth-round submission victory in Las Vegas, sealed with a vault over the octagon to instigate a brawl in the crowd. Moments prior he had made the leap from unbeaten and unsung UFC hardcore hero to mixed martial arts phenom.Also on rt.com 'I don't hit old people': Khabib Nurmagomedov slams Conor McGregor as he explains why he doesn't carry the Russian flag (VIDEO)
Nurmagomedov would go on to defend the belt against Dustin Poirier in September, and is currently in talks to face Tony Ferguson in March or April 2020, whom he has already been scheduled to face four times, each time being canceled due to injury from either party a couple of times apiece.
To Khabib’s credit, his victories, demeanor and mannerisms have seen him become something of a national sporting icon for many, and one of the most recognizable and respected faces in the organization. He is one of the few fighters to have made the crossover from cult viewing figure wearing a funny hat and uttering deadpan one-liners in broken English to undeniable top-ranked fighter, with a no. 2 pound-for-pound ranking to boot.
His handing McGregor his third straight defeat caused the Dubliner’s stock to suffer a plummet past any level even his mercurial skills as a self-promoter could salvage, in the absence of any recent win in the octagon.
In McGregor's own words, "I worked hard my last two fights. No doubt. But without consistency, I fell short," and that is far from an understatement.
In the meantime, misdemeanors outside the octagon have contributed to his public image becoming at first a caricature of his bad boy brashness, and then a tired illustration of a man acting out to perhaps stay relevant.
Adverts with Burger King and betting companies twinned with business endeavors that included whiskey and fine clothing occupied McGregor’s free time that he could have spent treading the same path as Khabib in an ascent to stardom.
Three years since his last win in any fighting arena is increasingly becoming not a yardstick of McGregor’s success, but a distant memory of past glories and a marker of how far his star has fallen.
His comeback plans were recently outlined as a January 18 fight against likely either Justin Gaethje or Donald Cerrone, then perhaps Jorge Masvidal before a possible rematch in Russia with Khabib, but seem big talk for a former high roller reduced to making outlandish plans and predictions for want of evidence in the octagon.
If McGregor is to stop his descent into being yesterday’s champ, he must return to winning ways to recapture the heady heights of three years ago.