McGregor can clinch UFC history in lightweight war with Dos Anjos
Lee Gormley | February 8, 2016
McGregor obsessed with making UFC history
“I will go through every single one of them. I’ll wipe out the entire roster in four months.”
After devastatingly dethroning long-standing featherweight champion Jose Aldo last year, those were the typically assertive words of Conor McGregor as he embarks on the trail towards further sporting history at UFC 196, where he will go to war with Rafael dos Anjos for the lightweight title.
Ireland’s newly-crowned sporting king has captivated the UFC in a short but sweet period, becoming the leading light with his unwavering exuberance and incredible octagon exploits, with the Dubliner now focusing on cementing his legacy further in Las Vegas on March 5th, when he is 6/5 with Coral for a sixth successive stoppage triumph.
‘The Notorious’ will bid to become the first ever fighter in UFC history to hold two world titles simultaneously when he collides with Dos Anjos in Nevada, having taken America by storm with seven devastatingly convincing victories since bursting onto the United States scene in 2013.
Can ‘Mystic Mac’ strike again?
In the space of just over two years, the 27-year-old has exploded onto the UFC’s grandest stage, with his verbal onslaughts towards rivals and future opponents keeping entertainment levels soaring high, before backing up such brazen declarations with his menacing octagon skills.
Having confidently outlined fight predictions ahead of each bout, and getting his claims perfectly on the money each time, McGregor has rightfully earned the title of ‘Mystic Mac’ but, after correctly foreseeing recent outcomes, can he strike gold again against Dos Anjos?
Speaking ahead of the March match-up, the Crumlin-reared champion anticipated yet another early shutdown of his latest Brazilian foe, in what has swiftly become his second home of Vegas.
“I believe I will dust Rafael inside one minute. He is a slower and sloppier version of Aldo,” McGregor said. “His shot selection is poor. He has a tenseness in his body when he loads.
“[He has] tasted that darkness of being KO’d stiff and you will taste it again.
“I [also] like the sound of that 170lbs title. I feel I can take down those three gold belts and I feel like I can do it by the year’s end.”
Following his successful calls in previous octagon outings, 10/1 odds suggest his latest meeting will be done and dusted within 59 seconds, just as ‘Mystic Mac’ himself has predicted, and who’s to argue any different?
“He’s 5ft 8in with a 70-inch reach, I’m 5ft 9in with a 74-inch reach – I am the bigger man. I am going to bully this man in his own division,” McGregor continued. “Just looking at him, he’s aged 25 years in the last two weeks.”
Dos Anjoys arguably toughest test
Despite many calls for a rematch with Aldo, McGregor isn’t one to wait around, instead moving up to lightweight in an attempt to clinch more silverware, and a slice of history.
That sensational 13-second triumph over Aldo will undoubtedly go down in McGregor’s CV as a defining career moment, but against a bigger, stronger rival, can he re-adapt to a division switch and lift the lightweight title?
The brash Irishman has been busy bulking up for his return to 155 pounds, following previous success at this weight before entering the UFC, and he is 50/1 to repeat recent heroics by thwarting Dos Anjos in 13 seconds or less. Though, the next Brazilian standing in his way has dismissed any chances of that occurring again.
“There won’t be any chance of him doing anything like that to me,” declared Dos Anjos.
“I certainly have the beating of him..”
“Personally, I think he should have been involved in a rematch with Aldo because their fight ended so quickly and Aldo had been unbeaten for ten years.
“But McGregor wanted to move up a division and face me but I know I can send him back to the featherweights where Aldo can finish him off.”
The third degree Brazilian jiu-jitsu Blackbelt may be the man currently in possession of the lightweight strap but, like may of McGregor’s contests, it’s the Irish challenger that enters as favourite with Dos Anjos 7/2 to prevail by submission.
“I’ve fought the best lightweights in the world and McGregor’s a featherweight. I certainly have the beating of him,” added the Rio de Janeiro-born title holder.
“He’s a good fighter, but I’ve fought better fighters. I just fought Donald Cerrone, who is almost twice his size, and I came out on top. I have been tested against the best.”
McGregor seeks Samba slaughtering again
Former undisputed featherweight champion Aldo had reigned supreme for a decade until McGregor’s blink-and-you-miss-it title success, and the beefed-up Dubliner is now seeking to down another Samba champion to add to his ever-growing list of UFC accolades.
“I will parade his head through the streets of Rio de Janeiro. There will be a parade I imagine, a national holiday,” declared ‘the Notorious’.
“Dos Anjos brings the name of Brazil down. I will bring the name of Brazil up again. Viva La Brasilia!”
Dos Anjos may be a lesser known Brazilian champion than Aldo, but he still poses a threat, though McGregor is just one more Samba star slaughtering away from becoming the first man to reign across two divisions.
Could the unthinkable occur at UFC 196?
The latest Brazilian holds superior grounds skills in this battle, something McGregor was able to deal with from Chad Mendes at UFC 189, and is also a southpaw like his foe, meaning both fighters will be open to leg kicks, with the Irishman’s reliant left hand potentially set to be nullified at times too.
Although, Dos Anjos has showed signs of weakness in the past, having been sparked out in 2008, being flattened in his promotional debut by hard-hitting Jeremy Stephens, and has never witnessed as much psychological warfare beforehand.
It was evident that the Brazilian was slightly rattled during exchanges with McGregor, including at last year’s infamous press conference, when the Dublin native exclaimed that Dos Anjos and others would celebrate ‘red panty night’ in their households if they got called-up to fight him.
Though, since suffering a decision defeat at the hands of grappling master Khabib Nurmagomedov in April 2014, Dos Anjos has proved his worth again with dominant wins over Nate Diaz, Anthony Pettis and ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone.
It’s hard to look past McGregor at UFC 196, having rampantly risen to prominence of late and, after rattling such an esteemed champion in Aldo before even hearing a bell rang, many are expecting the ‘Notorious’ train to continue on its path of destruction. But what happens if the trash-talking Irishman does endure a maiden UFC setback?
Under the high-profile insults and massive aura surrounding McGregor, the featherweight title-holder is a humble, appreciative champion and would undoubtedly be first to congratulate any man who finally topples him in the octagon. But it’s a more compassionate side we may not witness in the near future as he looks to maintain his impressive streak.
Previously dominant women’s champion Ronda Rousey has had to overcome a backlash of critics since losing out to Holly Holm in stunning fashion, and a high-profile defeat for McGregor would surely see the Irishman face a similar reception after such well-documented victory claims.
White fuels McGregor for UFC 196
UFC president Dana White also added fuel to the fire which is set to ignite on March 5th, surprisingly claiming that he doesn’t see how McGregor can find a way past Dos Anjos.
“I don’t see how he [McGregor] wins this fight. He’s moving up to 155lbs to take on an animal who destroyed Cowboy Cerrone, who destroyed Anthony Pettis,” stated White.
“And this isn’t like boxing where you move up two or three pounds, he’s moving up 15lbs.”
Such remarks will only strengthen McGregor’s will to prevail once again, as the sport’s leading light aims to shine his brightest to date at UFC 196 and make history in front of both adoring American and travelling Irish fans on March 5th.
Relive that famous night last December in which Conor McGregor secured his finest achievement so far against Jose Aldo at UFC 194.