UFC flyweight Ian McCall believes that Conor McGregor is mixed martial arts’ biggest star, bigger than Ronda Rousey, bigger than even Chuck Liddell in his heyday.
Despite the Irishman’s proven drawing power, however, McCall doesn’t think the “Notorious” one will go down in history as one of the sport’s all-time greats. According to “Uncle Creepy,” the manner in which McGregor went down to Nate Diaz at UFC 196 was telling.
In the second round of that encounter, Diaz dazed McGregor with combination punching, forcing the SBG Ireland representative to shoot for a desperation takedown. Diaz quickly transitioned from full mount to his opponent’s back, where he forced him to tap to a rear-naked choke at the 4:12 mark of the period.
“I think that he’s really good. He’s better than really good -- he’s incredible,” McCall said during an appearance on the Sherdog Radio Network’s "Neutral Corner” show with Yves Edwards. “But his jiu-jitsu is dog s--t.
“I know Nate Diaz is a savage, but Conor didn’t do anything against Chad [Mendes either]. He got molested by Nate. Maybe his jiu-jitsu is really good. But for him to be a brown belt, that’s a slap in the face to someone like me who’s been a purple belt for 10 years.”
In the past, McGregor mocked foes who tried for takedowns after tasting his punching power at featherweight. However, fighting Diaz at 170 pounds, McGregor did the very same thing he criticized others for doming against him.
“He got cracked. If I get cracked I’m still gonna take a good shot,” McCall said. “If I get cracked and we get on the ground, you’re still not gonna do that stuff to me.”
McGregor’s 15-fight winning streak may have come to an end at UFC 196, but his gate appeal doesn’t appear to have diminished in the slightest. That became evident during a recent dispute with the UFC, when McGregor briefly retired and unretired on Twitter in protest of the myriad media obligations he was required to fulfill ahead of his rematch with Diaz at UFC 200. McGregor was ultimately pulled from the card, but the amount of buzz he generated with a few simple tweets was undeniable.
In that sense, McCall agrees that McGregor might be the best the UFC has ever seen.
“I guess you can look at technical acumen, you can look at actual record, you can look at how much of a star you were. If you’re a star, sure. Conor has even eclipsed Chuck,” he said. “And no one has done that. I guess Ronda would be second.
“It’s a weird spot in this sport where there are multiple different avenues to say, ‘Well he’s the greatest here and he’s the greatest here.’ Boxing’s the same way.”