Timeline: Conor McGregor's rapid rise to UFC superstardom

Ryan McKinnell
Cagewriter
(Yahoo Sports Illustration)
(Yahoo Sports Illustration)

Despite fighting in the UFC for less than three years, Conor McGregor could quite possibly be the company’s biggest star.

Debuting in April 2013 with a first-round TKO over Marcus Brimmage, ‘Notorious’ was a prospect to watch from the beginning. Before McGregor made his UFC debut, he was a dual-weight champion overseas in the Cage Warriors promotion, serving as both their featherweight and lightweight champion.

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Now, with the UFC featherweight title firmly in his grasp, the 27-year-old Irish sensation is looking to set his sights on loftier goals. Before he does, however, he must defeat Nate Diaz this Saturday at UFC 196 – and he’ll be doing so a full 25 pounds above his normal weight class, meeting Diaz at welterweight.

[Related: Conor McGregor surprises superfan by crashing his apartment]

Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s take a look back at the incredible rise of one of MMA’s most polarizing figures.

2006 – McGregor begins training MMA in his hometown of Dublin, Ireland, eventually landing at the Straight Blast Gym and now-head coach John Kavanaugh.

March 8, 2008 – McGregor has his first fight, a second-round TKO victory over Gary Morris at Cage of Truth 2 in Dublin.

April 16, 2011 – Believe it or not, McGregor's knockout of Jose Aldo in 13 seconds wasn't even the quickest fight of his professional career. That happened against Paddy Doherty in 2011 when McGregor won via KO in just four seconds.

June 2, 2012 – McGregor wins the Cage Warriors featherweight championship with a second-round submission win over Dave Hill. It would be McGregor’s first taste of MMA gold, but not his last.

Dec. 31, 2012 – Just seven months after winning the Cage Warriors featherweight title, McGregor nabs the lightweight belt with a first-round TKO of Ivan Buchinger. The performance is his last outside the UFC.

April 6, 2013 – McGregor debuts in the UFC with a rousing first-round TKO stoppage of Marcus Brimmage at UFC on Fuel in Stockholm, Sweden. At the time, a young ‘Mystic Mac’ is still a relative unknown, but not for very long.

July 19, 2014 – Just over a year removed from his UFC debut, McGregor headlines his first UFC with a first-round TKO over Diego Brandao. This marks McGregor’s third UFC victory, and it will be his first and only UFC fight in his hometown (and country) of Dublin, Ireland.

July 11, 2015 – McGregor earns his first UFC title when he stops Team Alpha Male’s Chad Mendes at UFC 189, earning the interim featherweight title in the process. This is the first time McGregor headlines a UFC pay-per-view and the raucous, pro-Irish sell-out crowd makes sure it won’t be his last.

Dec 12, 2005 – McGregor shocks the MMA community when he dethrones the greatest sub-170 pound fighter in history, Jose Aldo, via a stunning 13-second first-round win. The knockout serves as McGregor’s crowning achievement.

But don’t tell that to McGregor, as he surely has loftier goals in mind.

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