Ranking Conor McGregor’s UFC Debut

Irishman Conor McGregor sent a shockwave throughout the UFC on Fuel TV 9 prelims yesterday, knocking out TUF veteran Marcus Brimage with an insane combo. It was an eye-opening occurrence for many casual fans of MMA, and maybe even several hardcore fans would fail to recognize McGregor offhand.

But a deeper look into the 24-year-old Featherweight’s record shows that he’s been a force to be reckoned with merely waiting for his chance to take the UFC by storm.

After all, McGregor left his last promotion, Cage Warriors FC, as both the Featherweight and Lightweight Champion. That’s a good feat for any MMA fighter in today’s ultra competitive landscape. You could argue that the competition was of a much lower grade in Cage Warriors, and it most likely was. However, McGregor silenced those critics by making Marcus Brimage look silly.

You can rest assured that McGregor will be put up against a truly top-level opponent in his next fight, as he just dove in headfirst into the rapidly expanding pool of talent at 145 lbs. Dana White speculated yesterday that McGregor will fight again on the August 17th UFC on Fox Sports 1 event. That should be a barnburner.

So just where does Conor McGregor’s UFC debut rank among the best ever? I’ll just have to reserve the top spot for Anderson Silva’s flabbergasting Muay Thai clinic on the usually iron-chinned Chris Leben. Second, well, that has to go none other than Junior dos Santos, who destroyed the heavily favored Fabricio Werdum with a well-timed uppercut in his Octagon debut.

Joe Lauzon can never be forgotten for his epic KO of the legendary Jens Pulver. That was a surprise to everyone, and Lauzon continues to be a force that relies on the finish or be finished school of MMA. Also, let’s not forget the Korean Zombie’s debut, as he put Leonard Garcia into a Twister that looked so painful it almost hurt to watch.

There’s a handful more debuts that could be labeled more epic, more high-profile, probably even more surprising that McGregor’s debut. But the kid’s story is just so inspirational, as he stated that he has now gone from welfare to collecting a $60K check for Knockout of the Night.

So I’d say it’s definitely a top ten debut, maybe even hovering around 6-7. The combo he unleashed upon Brimage was so clean, so accurate that I can’t help but think McGregor’s going to be a force and truly shake up an already hot division at Featherweight. There are just so many fights for him there. A battle against Erik Koch. The winner (or loser) of KZ vs. Ricardo Lamas. Maybe even Cub Swanson or Frankie Edgar down the line. And who wouldn’t want to see this guy fight Jose Aldo someday?

Plus, it’s scary to think that he’s got the time to get even better. The sky could be the limit for this young Irish fighter. Let me know your thoughts, your favorite UFC debuts, and your prognostication for McGregor in the comments below.


  1. Profile photo of kungfurule


    April 7, 2013 at 5:39 pm

    lets hope hes not a drinker

  2. Profile photo of David Saucier

    David Saucier

    April 7, 2013 at 5:40 pm

    Have him fight Swanson or the Korean Zombie. Money fights right there!

  3. Profile photo of Brian Cox

    Brian Cox

    April 7, 2013 at 6:01 pm

    I'd never seen him before. He looked like a beast. Certainly likes to throw that upper-cut.

  4. Profile photo of KeithFarrell


    April 7, 2013 at 8:20 pm

    Great young fighter, he's the closest thing to a Scottish fighter we have in there so I'm an instant fan. His upbeat, fun and confident attitude that translates in to his style makes me an even bigger fan.

    I had previously said this the fight I was most excited for. I was pretty high on Brimage but wasn't counting McGregor out, still though, the way he picked Brimage apart with pure technique and power was beautiful.

    He is obviously an outstanding striker but we need to see how he handles a good grappler before we can judge his position or talk about perhaps a top 10. I unlike a lot of people don;t want to see him pushed too fast, he is still young and he has shown a lot of improvement since his last fight so he will probably benefit off the more fights he gets.

  5. Profile photo of Evan Holober

    Evan Holober

    April 7, 2013 at 10:54 pm

    Very good. Wouldn't even be in my top ten for memorable/best debuts though.

    How he'll pan out is how he's matched up. They could treat him like Rory, or other guys who have been baby'd a bit in their first couple. Or they could throw him in with tough opponents (for his style) that aren't even ranked that highly (like Jimmy Hettes or another grappling based fighter).

    • Profile photo of David Saucier

      David Saucier

      April 8, 2013 at 2:22 am

      I think they will give him the Dan Hardy route and feed him stand up guys

    • Profile photo of codemaster


      April 8, 2013 at 10:54 am

      You mean how they babied Rory in his second fight in the UFC by giving him Carlos Condit?

      Or was it his third fight when they gave Rory Nate Diaz?

      It was probably Mike Pyle who the UFC babied Rory with?

      Now Che Mills turned out to be easy but Rogan said he was a 'killer' several times. ' )

      • Profile photo of Evan Holober

        Evan Holober

        April 8, 2013 at 11:44 am

        See those are fun points if you don't put anything in context.

        At the time, Carlos Condit was 1-1 in the UFC in two fights many thought he had lost (personally I had him winning both against Kampman and Ellenberger). He also had shown incredibly soft take down defense, which is a them we see with each of Rory's opponents (comparatively for the WW division).

        Nate Diaz just lost to DHK. Pyle was on a decent winning streak, but never thought to be top ten level. Mills is one we don't even have to explain.

        The common them among these fighters is a lack of wrestling background (which is a notable exception in the wrestling rich WW division). Rory's jump to Condit might have seemed a bit high, but it was an incredibly winnable fight at the time for him. He's never had to go against guys like Pierce, Koscheck, Ellenberger, Hendricks, or even Story while he's climbed the ranks at WW. While he's an incredibly adept striker his fall back is his ground game. The UFC hasn't put him in with any of the elite guys yet to see if he can handle himself when he doesn't have the wrestling advantage.

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