“We didn’t come here to take part. We came here to take over!”
So goes the mantra led by Conor McGregor — and so far, it seems he’s been true to his boasts. McGregor has enjoyed an undefeated UFC career since 2013, earning the featherweight title along the way and arguably becoming the promotion’s biggest star.
He’s surprised some of us in those seven bouts. We thought opponents like Chad Mendes would be able to better impose a wrestling-based attack on McGregor, who is mostly known as a striker. Few predicted McGregor’s last bout, against a man who dominated the 145 lb division for the better part of a decade, would end in a first round KO win for the Irishman — but that’s what happened.
All along, one group has been on the brash Irishman’s side from the beginning of his UFC career — the odds makers.
According to the Best Fight Odds archive, McGregor has opened as a betting favorite over every UFC opponent.
However, when news emerged this week that “The Notorious One” will move up in weight in March to challenge Rafael Dos Anjos for the UFC lightweight title — we have our first exception to the rule.
“I originally opened the [McGregor] line on Dec. 20 and early action was on McGregor,” Kalikas said. “The line has since settled at minus-130 for Dos Anjos.
“It’s amazing what McGregor has accomplished, especially in his last fight against Jose Aldo, but dos Anjos has looked phenomenal for three straight fights by absolutely dominating three of the best lightweights in the world in Benson Henderson, Anthony Pettis and Donald Cerrone.”
Dos Anjos has indeed looked spectacular in recent bouts — defeating another of the UFC’s “poster boys” in Pettis with a wide decision win last March to earn the 155 lb strap, and knocking out Cerrone last month to defend it.
Some believe the sharp counter-striking of McGregor — who struggled in several grappling sequences in that bout against Chad Mendes last year — is a poor clash with Dos Anjos. The Brazilian has an excellent jiu-jitsu game.
One might say Dos Anjos has history on his side, too. The bout, which has been scheduled for UFC 197 on March 5 in Las Vegas, marks the first time two UFC champions will meet in the Octagon since 2009. That night, lightweight champion BJ Penn challenged Georges St-Pierre for St Pierre’s welterweight title — to disastrous effect. Penn endured an ugly beating until his corner mercifully threw in the towel after the fourth round.
But on the other hand, McGregor hasn’t been concerned with history — he’s made his own history. A few years back, no one in the wrestle-box oriented MMA world would have predicted the unorthodox striking style of McGregor to be a dominant force today. No one would have predicted his hordes of Irish fans taking over Las Vegas for the biggest fights of the year, either. With his sudden knockout of Aldo he has already shown that he can shock the world.
It’s time to make a little more history, or fall in its wake.