Former UFC lightweight and featherweight champion Conor McGregor has been compared to late boxing legend Muhammad Ali at several points over the course of his career, most notably by UFC President Dana White. These comparisons are generally based on McGregor’s confidence, showmanship and proficiency at mental warfare — traits Ali was famous for.
“I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: He’s better [at mental warfare] than anybody,” Dana White told the media of McGregor shortly after the first press conference for UFC 229 (via MMAjunkie). “Even Ali. You don’t want to say anybody’s better than Ali, but I think when it comes to the mental war game in this sport, or any other sport, Conor McGregor is the best ever.”
While not everybody agrees it’s sensible to compare Conor McGregor to a figure as historically significant as Muhammad Ali, McGregor himself is understandably honored by comments of this kind. That being said, McGregor also assures that these comments are premature, and that Ali still towers above him in the combat sports pantheon.
“I always appreciate the comparison,” McGregor said during The Exchange with Megan Olivi (transcript via MMAjunkie). “I’m quick to say I am not anywhere close to Muhammad Ali. That was a special man. I am just a simple, young kid from Crumlin, Dublin, Ireland. And I’m here looking for a fight.”
Conor McGregor returns to the Octagon at UFC 229 this Saturday, when he will take on undefeated UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov. The bout will be his first since an August 2017 boxing match with Floyd Mayweather, and his first mixed martial arts fight since November of 2016 when he knocked out Eddie Alvarez to win the UFC lightweight belt.
What do you think of comparisons between Conor McGregor and Muhammad Ali?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 10/4/2018.