One year ago today, Ireland’s Conor McGregor backed up months of trash talk and bravado to knock out Jose Aldo and win the UFC featherweight title. The knockout occurred just 13 seconds into the fight’s first frame, and marked the end of Aldo’s decade-long unbeaten streak.
How things have changed since then.
Shortly after his incredible knockout of Aldo, McGregor set his sights on a lightweight title fight with then champion Rafael Dos Anjos. As we now know, however, a foot injury would force Dos Anjos out of this planned battle just 11 days out from Fight Night. He would be replaced by an opportunistic veteran in Nate Diaz, who would go on to shock the world.
McGregor began this fight with Diaz in vintage form, bloodying his foe up over the course of a lopsided first round. In the second, however, McGregor quickly began to fade, and that was the beginning of the end for him. After being rocked by a series of Diaz punches, the Irishman shot for an ill-advised takedown, and wound up giving up his back. Shortly thereafter, he was tapping to a rear-naked choke that entirely upended the fight game.
Given McGregor’s previous dominance, and his status as the sport’s biggest star, he and Diaz were quickly pencilled in for a rematch. This rematch was originally scheduled for the landmark UFC 200. Regrettably, a dispute between McGregor and the UFC would mean that UFC 200 would go down without this rematch. The card would, however, include a fight between Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar, which would see Aldo crowned the interim featherweight champion.
Thankfully, McGregor and the UFC were able to settle their differences soon thereafter, and his rematch with Diaz was rescheduled for UFC 202. This rematch would go down as one of the best fights of the year. Though McGregor ultimately walked away with a majority decision win, Diaz made it one hell of the fight, pushing the Irishman to the precipice with his cardio and rangy boxing attack.
Having avenged his shocking loss to Diaz, McGregor then reset his sights on the lightweight title shot that eluded him earlier in the year. By this point, however, the lightweight belt resided on the waist of Eddie Alvarez, who knocked out Rafael Dos Anjos in July.
McGregor and Alvarez’s title fight, as we all remember so well, would occur atop UFC 205, which marked the UFC’s long-awaited debut in New York City. It would be a blowout for McGregor.
After dropping his foe several times in the first round, the Irishman polished him off with a blistering combo in the second. With this win, he would become the UFC lightweight champion. Because he’d held onto the featherweight belt over the course of this most hectic year, this made him the first fighter in UFC history to hold two titles in two weight classes concurrently.
McGregor’s reign as a two division champ wouldn’t last long, of course.
Just weeks removed from his knockout of Alvarez, it was announced that he’d been stripped of his long-awaited featherweight belt. At the same time, Jose Aldo was promoted from interim champion to undisputed champion. And so, here we are, one year removed from McGregor’s blitzkrieg knockout of the Brazilian, and it’s almost as if it never happened.
What do you make of the UFC’s decision to strip McGregor of the featherweight title? Sound off, PENN Nation!