Though MMA is still a fairly young sport, it has had its fair share of big names that have had some mainstream appeal. Very few, however, have been as polarizing as Conor McGregor. Since making his UFC debut in 2013, McGregor has been nothing short of a whirlwind of domination and intrigue. The SBG Ireland talent sports an 8-1 UFC record, and a 20-3 record overall. Among his wins, McGregor has 17 knockouts, 2 decisions, and 1 submission for good measure. A former two-division Cage Warriors FC champion, McGregor has his eyes set on multi-division gold in the UFC.
He’s one of the best pound-for-pound fighters on the planet, and his name is on the tip of many fighters’ tongue, and for good reason. McGregor is the biggest pay-per-view draw in the UFC, having headlined 3 separate pay-per-views that have eclipsed the 1 million buy mark. His drawing power has shown that he is one of the few genuine superstars on the promotion’s roster. Having vanquished the featherweight division, the 145 pound king has left a trail of battered foes behind him on his path to glory.
But it’s not just the wins that are impressive; it’s the violently spectacular way in which he has executed them. From a 4 second drubbing of a lesser foe, to a 5 round classic, McGregor’s resume is as impressive as they come. Let’s take a look back at the career of the “Notorious” one, as we list the top 15 most brutal Conor McGregor victories.
15. Conor McGregor vs Aaron Jahnsen – Cage Warriors – Fight Night 2
At this point in his career, McGregor had only left the first round on two different occasions, and had already alternated between fighting at both lightweight and featherweight. McGregor had notched all 8 career victories by either knockout or technical knockout, and Jahnsen appeared to want no part of McGregor’s striking. After some brief striking exchanges, Jahnsen began to try and exploit McGregor’s suspect grappling game. Try as he may, his grappling simply did not get the job done. McGregor spent the better portion of the grappling exchanges in an advantageous position, and slowly chipped away at Jahnsen. After working his way out of an attempted guillotine choke, McGregor was able to drop punches on his opponent until the referee stopped the fight. The bout was a demonstration of the improved grappling aspect of McGregor’s game, as he had 2 losses by submission at the hands of Joseph Duffy and Artemij Sitenkov.
14. Conor McGregor vs Connor Dillon – Chaos FC 7
Sporting a 3-1 record, the young McGregor had tallied less than 3 full rounds in his professional career, and was fresh off an 82 second thrashing of Stephen Bailey. From the opening bell, early signs showed that these were not two athletes of a kind caliber. While it appeared as though McGregor was going to steamroll Dillon, all wasn’t what it seemed, as Dillon’s exploitation of McGregor’s underdeveloped ground game proved beneficial. Dillon’s grappling was able to keep him alive in the bout early, as he looked the secure a guillotine after weathering an early onslaught of strikes. Back on the feet, McGregor continued to stick it to his opponent. Dillon’s last chance came when the fight briefly returned to the mat, but his hopes were dashed quickly. McGregor was able to uncork a knee and a couple follow up punches before the referee stopped the fight, giving McGregor the TKO victory.
13. Conor McGregor vs Dustin Poirier – UFC 178
Coming just 2 months after McGregor’s first round TKO victory over Diego Brandao, McGregor and Dustin Poirier locked horns at UFC 178. Both fighters were on a 3 fight winning streak inside the UFC, and were two of the brightest young stars in the budding featherweight division. Poirier had notched 6 submission victories heading into the bout, and many wondered if he would have his way with McGregor should the fight hit the mat due to McGregor’s only career losses coming by way of submission. As it were, the fight never made its way to the ground, aside from a brief slip by the Irishman. Throughout the contest, McGregor soundly out-struck his opponent, using a diverse and unpredictable attack the keep Poirier on his heels. Poirier was able to land a few shots, but eventually succumbed to McGregor’s left hand and barrage of follow up strikes. The victory kept the hype train rolling, and McGregor marched ahead in the division.
12. Conor McGregor vs Ivan Buchinger – Cage Warriors FC 51
Already the Cage Warriors FC Featherweight Champion, McGregor stepped up a weight class, and challenged Ivan Buchinger for the lightweight strap. Early in the fight, McGregor successfully took Buchinger down, and he began to try and outwork him on the ground. After Buchinger was able to get to his feet, both men began trading blows, with Buchinger able to land a few solid shots. McGregor kept moving forward, showing no doubt in his talents, and absolutely starched Buchinger with a left hand. The referee jumped in to save the fighter from any further damage, and McGregor officially became a two-division champion. This fight would be McGregor’s last with Cage Warriors FC, as he would go on to make his UFC debut a few months later. With a potential bout with lightweight king Eddie Alvarez looming, it’ll be interesting to see if he can replicate the same success in the UFC.
11. Conor McGregor vs Diego Brandao – UFC Fight Night – McGregor vs. Brandao
Fighting in front of an Irish crowd for the first time in his UFC career, McGregor was itching to make a statement. His last appearance in front of his countrymen saw McGregor secure his second title under the Cage Warriors FC banner. Brandao won season 14 of “The Ultimate Fighter”, and was a replacement for original opponent Cole Miller. He had lost his most recent fight to future McGregor opponent Dustin Poirier, and was ready to get back into the win column. This would not happen, as McGregor was able to thwart Brandao’s early grappling attempts, and batter his opponent on the feet. A reeling Brandao was backed up against the cage and fell victim to McGregor’s left hand. Brandao turtled up, and McGregor was able to finish him off. The fight sent a statement throughout the featherweight division, and showed that McGregor had improved his grappling by leaps and bounds.
10. Conor McGregor vs Hugh Brady – Chaos FC 8
The 4-2 McGregor, fresh off of a submission defeat at the hands of current UFC lightweight prospect Joseph Duffy, was in no mood for games as this contest began. His loss to Duffy at took a mere 38 seconds, and it was clear from the start of the first round that McGregor was out to right his wrongs. Both men were willing to trade, and Brady proved to be a game opponent. A few moments after landing a solid left hand, McGregor and Brady exchanged blows, and McGregor landed a flush right uppercut that sent Brady to the canvas. On the ground, McGregor was able to outwork the dazed Brady, and secure a full mount. While in the dominant position, McGregor unleashed hell, as he rained down carnage from above. The referee stopped the fight after less than 3 minutes of action, and McGregor was back to his winning ways.
9. Conor McGregor vs Steve O’Keefe – Cage Warriors FC 45
After dropping back down to the featherweight division, McGregor was in search of his sixth straight victory, and Steve O’Keefe was standing in his way. To say that McGregor was looking to destroy his opponent is an understatement. The aggressive McGregor wasted no time in engaging with O’Keefe, throwing a barrage of strikes to stop his foe in his tracks. His mix of punches and knees were a lethal combination, but he was a bit too aggressive. This strategy played directly into O’Keefe’s hands, as he was able to lock horns with McGregor against the cage, and looked to control his opponent. McGregor remained composed, and greeted O’Keefe’s efforts with devastating left elbows to O’Keefe’s temple. The elbows dropped his opponent to his knees, and the fight was over. It was a brutal finish to a very entertaining fight, and netted McGregor a date with Dave Hill for the Cage Warriors FC featherweight title.
8. Conor McGregor vs Marcus Brimage – UFC on Fuel TV: Mousasi vs Latifi
It’s hard to imagine a time when Gegard Mousasi would headline a card over Conor McGregor, but we all need to start somewhere. In his first UFC bout, the 12-2 McGregor, fresh off of being a multi-division champion, took on 3 fight UFC veteran Marcus Brimage, and ended the fight in spectacular fashion. The aggressive Brimage came out hot, looking to capitalize on potential octagon jitters, but none were to be found. McGregor used his pin-point precision to counter and chip away at his foe, before unleashing a 3-punch combo that flattened Brimage. The highlight reel stoppage was a sign of what was to come for McGregor. It was a memorable and brutal debut that helped launch the trash-talking Irishman’s UFC career. 3 years later, McGregor is your featherweight champion, and Brimage most recently fought at Viva Nicaragua Canal 13 – MMA War, and has won only one out of his last seven contests. Yikes.
7. Conor McGregor vs Mike Wood – Cage Contender 8
The 5-2 Conor McGregor was already making waves in Ireland due to his spectacular finishes, but this bout was utter domination. Fresh off of a rebounding win against Hugh Brady, McGregor looked to keep his positive momentum rolling as he clashed with Mike Wood. The bout would prove to be a one-sided affair. 9 seconds into the contest, McGregor dropped Wood, and wasted no time in going for the throat. Try as he may, Wood was unable to get back up to his feet while fending off the clean shaven McGregor. Lasting a mere 7 seconds longer, McGregor’s left hand found its home along the jawline of Mike Wood repeatedly. The contest was a devastating showcase for McGregor’s striking prowess, and would be the second of 3 fights in 3 months for McGregor. When the dust settled, McGregor needed only 16 seconds to trounce Wood, and his hand was raised.
6. Conor McGregor vs Dennis Siver – UFC Fight Night: McGregor vs. Siver
After notching a dominant win over Dustin Poirier, McGregor continued his divisional onslaught by dispatching German standout Dennis Siver. The fight was supposed to act a test for McGregor’s striking prowess, as Siver’s striking was considered to be in the upper echelon of the featherweight division. This bout quickly turned out to be an absolute nightmare for Siver. For the duration of the fight, McGregor could do no wrong as he simply outclassed Siver, and let the world feast their eyes as he wore down his opponent with a diverse striking attack. The fluidity with which he threw each punch and kick were something to be admired. A testament to Siver’s toughness, this is one of the few fights on this last that managed to leave the first round. Toughness aside, Siver was a bloodied mess by the time the fight was stopped, and McGregor had earned himself a match with featherweight kingpin Jose Aldo.
5. Conor McGregor vs Mo Taylor – Cage Rage Contenders – Ireland vs. Belgium
In his second professional fight, McGregor found himself in a barn burner. The young McGregor had notched a second round victory in his first professional fight, but didn’t seem to want this bout to last any longer than it had to. Neither man was looking to take it easy, and both came forward, hungry for a remarkable finish. The ultra aggressive McGregor was swinging for the fences, and was able to drop Taylor early. On the ground, McGregor threw his punches with intensity, as he tried to finish Taylor quickly. Ever the competitor, Taylor looked for submissions off of his back, which gave us an interesting take on McGregor’s inexperienced grappling game. Having thwarted Taylor’s submission attempts, McGregor was able to utilize his top game, and finish his opponent. This was an incredibly exciting fight, and just goes to show you how far McGregor’s technical striking has come since his early days on the Irish circuit.
4. Conor McGregor vs Paddy Doherty – Immortal Fighting Championship 4
While the time of a fight doesn’t dictate brutality, it’s incredibly difficult to ignore a 4 second KO. Yes, 4 seconds. To put that in perspective, Jose Aldo lasted 3 times as long as Doherty did. Doherty hardly stood a chance, as McGregor improved his record to 7-2, and added to his expanding list of victims. In the previous fight, McGregor dispatched the aforementioned Mike Wood in just 16 seconds. In 20 combined seconds, McGregor was able to vanquish two separate foes. This fight was McGregor’s third in a 3 month span, all of which ended by KO or TKO, and all 3 bouts tallied less than 3 minutes of combined fight time. Can you guess what type of strike McGregor used to crumple his foe? Something tells me that McGregor’s left hand is on its way to become as renowned as a Mirko Cro Cop left high kick, or a Ronda Rousey armbar.
3. Conor McGregor vs Jose Aldo – UFC 194
You knew that this fight was coming. The build-up for this mega fight had been red hot, as the duo was originally slated to meet at UFC 189, but the fight was scrapped due to injury. For months, McGregor’s verbal barrage at Aldo built an intense amount of hype for the fight. Jose Aldo was on a 10 year unbeaten streak, and is considered by most to be the greatest featherweight fighter who has walked the planet, while McGregor had been steadily building a legacy all his own. After all the talk, all the hype, and all the press, it was finally time to fight. 13 seconds later, we had a new champion. McGregor capitalized on the overly aggressive Aldo, and cleaned his clock with a left hand that sent the Brazilian legend crashing to the canvas. A few follow up punches later, and the UFC had their first ever Irish champion. It was a violent display of dominance, and put the UFC roster on notice. This fight catapulted McGregor to superstardom, and the eagerly-anticipated rematch is hopefully right around the corner.
2. Conor McGregor vs Chad Mendes – UFC 189
Violence is a two-way street, and in this particular bout, McGregor was put to the test in a major way. Having stepped up on short notice, Chad Mendes believed that his wrestling would dominate McGregor, and would make him the interim champ. In the stand-up war, McGregor was picking apart the smaller Mendes, but not without absorbing some damage himself. It was the moments when the fight was on the ground that the real violence was on display. Mendes’ top-tier wrestling was utilized to keep McGregor on his back all the while opening up a cut on the Irishman. He pounded away at McGregor, and appeared to be on cruise control. However, stamina proved to be a major downfall. As Mendes began to tire out, McGregor capitalized. The fight returned to the feet, and, nearing the end of the second round, McGregor dropped Mendes in spectacular fashion, and finished his opponent. The match made McGregor the interim champ, and gave way to the term “Full Camp Mendes”, for those who believed that a short camp was a hindrance for the Team Alpha Male standout.
1. Conor McGregor vs Nate Diaz 2 – UFC 202
Having fallen to Diaz in their first meeting, Conor McGregor was out to prove that he was the best pound-for-pound fighter on the planet. The rematch was to take place at UFC 200, but, due to McGregor not wanting to do a press tour in order to prepare, the fight was scrapped, and moved to 202. The pre-fight hype did not disappoint, as the men engaged in a verbal warfare that made this one of the most anticipated fights in UFC history. The first 2 rounds saw McGregor drop Diaz several times, as he continually beat his foe to the punch. Diaz was being soundly out-boxed, an area in which he prides himself. However, in a mirror image of their first encounter, McGregor appeared to slow, and Diaz stepped it up and began to put it on McGregor. Both men were a bloodied mess, and the final 2 rounds came down to sheer will power. A true war of attrition. McGregor’s hand was raised in victory, and this instant classic made it to number one on our list.