UFC 257: Conor McGregor’s five best UFC performances to date

By | January 21, 2021

Conor McGregor has headlined some of the biggest fights in UFC history, and in doing so has put in some of the most memorable performances in the sport in recent years.

From featherweight to welterweight, McGregor has made his mark on the sport with highlight-reel knockout wins, trash talk and a couple of championship belts.

UFC 257: Date, start time, card, PPV, odds

But which of his 10 UFC wins have been the most impressive?

We put our heads together and came up with this list of the Irishman’s top performances in the UFC. We took into account the level of opponent, the size of the occasion and the way he earned these wins.

5. McGregor def. Nate Diaz via majority decision

We favored spectacular knockouts in this list, but the high-stakes context of this rematch made it hard not to include.

McGregor had been beaten by Diaz just a few months earlier after the Californian was a late-notice replacement for Rafael dos Anjos. A loss in the rematch at UFC 202 would have seriously derailed the McGregor hype train.

Would he have been handed a lightweight title shot against Eddie Alvarez, or a big-money boxing match opposite Floyd Mayweather with back-to-back losses? Doubt it.

He answered a lot of questions on fight night. It was the deepest he’s ever been taken, he went five hard rounds, took shots and fended off submission attempts.

It wasn’t his most complete or stunning win, but it might have been the one we learned most from.

4. McGregor def. Diego Brandao via first-round KO

The performance was sublime, but it was the stage that made this one truly impressive.

It was McGregor’s first main event fight, in front of his hometown fans in Dublin. He was also coming back from a knee injury he suffered almost a year earlier during his win over Max Holloway, and he’d spoken plenty of trash talk in the build-up.

Against a Brazilian jiu-jitsu whiz in Brandao, who had won “The Ultimate Fighter” in 2011, McGregor stayed safe when the fight went to the ground, and he earned a brutal stoppage four minutes into the first round.

3. McGregor def. Dustin Poirier via first-round KO

Just over two months after his win over Brandao, McGregor was back in the cage against Poirier in his first appearance on the main card of a pay-per-view event.

McGregor was ranked ninth at featherweight, facing the fifth-ranked Poirier. “The Diamond” was also McGregor’s biggest opponent to date and was riding a three-fight win streak

There was more smack talk, millions of eyeballs and a huge amount of pressure. The winner was guaranteed to be catapulted up the rankings, with a potential title fight in the near future.

When the opening siren sounded, McGregor proved he was levels above Poirier, displaying poise and patience on the way to a resounding win. It was the last time he didn’t headline a UFC card.

2. McGregor def. Eddie Alvarez via second-round TKO for the UFC lightweight title

One of the most devastatingly one-sided title fights won by a challenger.

McGregor etched his name into history by becoming a simultaneous two-weight UFC world champion when he utterly dismantled Alvarez at Madison Square Garden at UFC 205.

After a typically heated build-up, McGregor dropped the then-lightweight champ numerous times in the first round, showboated by holding his hands behind his back and put an exclamation mark on the victory in the second.

The 2016 bout is his last win in title fights.

1. McGregor def. Jose Aldo via first-round KO for the UFC featherweight title

Thirteen seconds. That’s all it took for McGregor to send the longtime featherweight champion Aldo to the canvas in the biggest fight of his life at UFC 194.

The win was made even more impressive when footage was later leaked of McGregor practicing the exact move — a perfect counter left to a charging Aldo — in the dressing room before the bout.

We debated whether to rank the Alvarez victory No. 1 but opted for this win because of Aldo’s record and legacy in the sport.

What we learned

Reflecting on some of these wins is like taking a trip back in time to revisit the irresistable wave of momentum McGregor had on his journey to becoming a two-weight world champion.

It was pretty much impossible not to get caught up in it.

It’s also worth noting that the most recent win on the list is over four years ago. Since then he’s experienced more controversy outside the Octagon than he’s had wins inside it. He also took a boxing match against Floyd Mayweather and lost convincingly to Khabib Nurmagomedov.

McGregor’s only win since his 2016 demolition of Alvarez is a 40-second stoppage of Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone, who really had no business being there.

The other thing that comes through is just how comfortable McGregor is under the spotlight. Against Aldo, Alvarez andPoirier, McGregor increased the hype and the pressure with some serious trash talk. But once the cage door closed, he was able to block it all out and put on sublime performances.

The same can’t be said for those three opponents. Aldo was mentally broken well before fight night, Alvarez seemingly forgot what got him to the title in the first place, and Poirier looked like a deer in headlights.

Will McGregor be able to add another one to the list this weekend?