Conor McGregor returned to the Octagon against Donald Cerrone at UFC 246. This was the first fight since 2018, amiss multiple setbacks.
The refocused McGregor finished Cowboy in under a minute, emphatically announcing his return to the UFC in a new weight class. The finish marks another historic moment as McGregor becomes the first fighter in the UFC to earn finishes in 3 different weight classes (featherweight, lightweight, and welterweight).
Let’s take a look at some other historic moments in some of Conor McGregor’s most impressive performances.
#5. Dustin Poirier (UFC 178)
I debated putting Conor's fight with Max in this spot, however this performance against Dustin was more impressive. McGregor was undefeated in the UFC when a young Dustin Poirier called him out. Conor was coming off of a first-round KO on home soil against Diego Branao.
At this point, we started to see the mind games of "The Notorious One," but the Poirier fight was when it was really put on display. McGregor was living rent-free in Dustin's head all week and Dustin was so emotional that he fought at a lower level than usual. It was also the start of Mystic Mac, with Conor predicting a first-round KO, and accomplishing just that in less than 2 minutes.
This was one of the most impressive performances of McGregor's early UFC career.
#4. Jose Aldo (UFC 194)
I struggled with this one. You could argue this should be #1 or closer to it. However, the fight was too short to know how impressive the performance would've been. After the fight was cancelled once, McGregor finally got his chance at the only featherweight champion in UFC up until that point.
Conor had just finished Chad Mendes for the interim title. This was another case of Conor McGregor being so far in Aldo's head that it affected him on fight night. Of course, unless you are new to this sport, Conor knocked out Aldo in 13 seconds, shocking the world. The craziest part of this fight is not the fight itself, it's what happened prior. There's a video in the "Notorious" movie where prior to the fight, Conor predicts the sequence move for move.
McGregor often talks about visualization, and he proved here that it works.
#3. Chad Mendes (UFC 189)
There were many questions about Conor going into this fight for the interim featherweight championship. Conor had never faced a wrestler to the caliber of decorated NCAA wrestler Chad Mendes. This was also a last-minute bout, as Jose Aldo pulled out of his scheduled fight with the Irish madman.
When it came to the fight, this was the first time Conor had faced adversity in the Octagon. Chad got Conor down and rained down hellbows. Then in the second, Mendes attempted another takedown, but it was stuffed. Conor would then knock him out in the second round, just as he predicted.
This is one of Conor's most impressive performances against one of the pound-for-pound best wrestlers at the time.
#2. Nate Diaz (UFC 202)
Coming off his loss to Nate at UFC 196, Conor had a lot to prove. Diaz shocked the world when he handed Conor his first loss in the UFC. Going into the rematch, the entire MMA world doubted McGregor, who used this as fuel.
Arguably the biggest rematch in modern MMA history took place at UFC 202 in Las Vegas. The fight was a five-round dog fight and tested the heart of Conor, who had never been taken to the championship rounds. McGregor learned from his first fight with Nate, and corrected his mistakes.
Conor had an impressive performance, and dug down deep to get his revenge. McGregor would win by majority decision in one of his biggest wins in his career.
#1. Eddie Alvarez (UFC 205)
McGregor's performance against Eddie Alvarez is the most impressive performance in a UFC championship fight. Coming off his win against Nate, Conor would try to make history once again. No man had ever been champion in two weight classes simultaneously. Conor did it back home in Ireland for Cage Warriors, and had a chance to replicate that success.
The featherweight champion had a chance to win the lightweight title. Not only did he win the fight, but he did it flawlessly. Conor knocked Eddie down multiple times in the first round. He would then finish Eddie in the second round. When you look at this fight as a whole, it is his most impressive.
His flawless performance, and the fact he made history makes this the best performance of his career to date.