Last night in Dublin, Ireland we saw the UFC’s latest star finally get born into the world with a huge win in his hometown. The show was focused solely on the merits of Conor McGregor’s name and the self-promotion that he’s been doing for himself over the past few months. In fact, they were easily able to pack 9,000 of the most raucous, insane fans into that arena, to the point where those in attendance claimed that they’ve never heard anything like it, the UFC even claiming that they had thousands and thousands of fans upset that they couldn’t get tickets.
So now comes the question: How long does it take for the UFC to mess up this new star that they have at their disposal? Part of making and presenting a star is the grand illusion; the ability to protect them and make them look like a million bucks constantly. According to UFC.com’s Rankings, Conor McGregor is at #12 right now, with the immediate talk after the fight on the broadcast being that Dustin Poirier is currently without an opponent and that it would be a good fight. It might be a good fight, but it might also be the end of Conor McGregor’s hype train, which isn’t a good thing for any of us.
So it’s time to turn to the book of the age old profession of pro wrestling for guidance in how to fantasy book Conor McGregor’s rise to superstardom. Of course the UFC is As Real as it Gets(TM), so they don’t have the luxury of everything turning out like this, but it’s a rough road map to making Conor McGregor into a sustainable star for years to come.
UFC 177 vs. Jeremy Stephens
Conor McGregor walked away from his win over Diego Brandao without a scratch on him, looking to immediately get back into the cage and prove himself to not only be a warrior, but one that isn’t afraid to take risks and to push himself. Conor cuts interviews about how Jose Aldo and Chad Mendes are so afraid of losing that they keep delaying their respective fight.
The fight is quick and brutal. Stephens is a solid hand in the Featherweight division and he thinks that a win over McGregor will get him back on track. Stephens notes that this is a very quick turnaround for him as well, but the fans are clearly in Conor’s corner. Conor picks up a first round, walk off knockout and after the fight declares himself the People’s Featherweight Champion.
UFC 179: Aldo vs. Mendes II
It’s October now and McGregor has two big wins from the summer. He’s unbooked for now, but during the pre-fight press conference McGregor intrudes carrying a championship belt of his own. He calls out both Aldo and Mendes, claiming that he doesn’t care who wins, that he considers himself the real champion regardless of the outcome.
During the fight McGregor is shown in the crowd looking unimpressed, championship belt slung over his shoulder the entire time much to the boos of the Brazilian crowd. Aldo picks up a hard-fought victory over Mendes, but is worse for wear after the bout, re-injuring his shoulder, which they assume will sideline him for a few more months. McGregor once again intrudes upon the post-fight press conference and Dana White is visibly upset, having security drag McGregor out.
November vs. The Korean Zombie
McGregor petitions for a fight following UFC 179, claiming the sooner the better, against anyone. He calls out the top five ranked Featherweights, claiming that none of them can touch him. The Korean Zombie responds via Twitter amused, with McGregor quickly taking to the media to run him down. Dana White announces Chan Sung Jung vs. Conor McGregor to headline a Fight Night event in mid-November.
McGregor claims that his People’s Featherweight Championship is on the line and insults Jung for “choking” against Aldo, claiming that he’ll do it again when challenging for his championship. Fans are rallying behind McGregor’s fake championship while Dana White is taking a hands-off approach, obviously claiming it’s unsanctioned, but refusing to bar him from carrying it around.
Fight time comes and McGregor walks out with his corner holding the championship above his head. They continue to do so while Buffer announces them, trying to lend credibility to this “championship.” Jung is able to hold his own throughout the fight, absorbs some serious damage and even tags McGregor a few times. McGregor looks mortal a few times during the fight, but never in real trouble. McGregor finally able to put him way in the third round. Post-fight McGregor calls out Aldo, who is still recuperating from a shoulder surgery, declaring himself a more fighting champion than Aldo. McGregor petitions to defend his “championship” on UFC’s big end of the year event.
When Rogan questions him about his goal of becoming the UFC Featherweight Champion before the end of the year he scoffs, holding up his own championship and declaring that he already is the champion while the crowd eats it up. McGregor continues to treat the championship as if it were a sanctioned UFC title, positioning it before him on the table in the post-fight press conference. Dana White likes the idea of another quick turnaround for McGregor, but claims that Aldo won’t be ready for December.
December vs. Frankie Edgar
Frankie Edgar is looking to get into the mix for another shot at Jose Aldo and begins running his mouth about how McGregor needs to wait in line like the rest of them. White immediately books Edgar vs. McGregor for their year-end event, the winner going on to get a shot at Jose Aldo. They are once again running Chris Weidman and Ronda Rousey as the main event spots, Weidman vs. Vitor and Ronda vs. Carano, but the media finds itself talking about Conor McGregor vs. Frankie Edgar just as much.
The talk is that this is too much, too soon for McGregor, that it was all in good fun for him to declare himself the real Featherweight Champion, but that Frankie Edgar, coming off of his dismantling of BJ Penn, is simply too much for him. McGregor continues to talk trash throughout, most of it aimed at Jose Aldo for not being a fighting champion, while he is. The media are beginning to question his logic of ignoring Edgar and keeping his eyes on Aldo like this.
Fight time comes and the fans are fully behind McGregor. Same deal as before with his championship, he treats it as if it were the real thing and people are eating it up. Edgar gives him the fight of his life, taking him down and holding him there, bloodying him up real well with hammerfists. Frankie Edgar, though, always gets dropped in every fight. Late in round two McGregor drops Edgar and swarms, only for Edgar to hold on for the bell. Going into round three McGregor’s team feels that it’s one round apiece and they urge him to be careful, to just try to hold on for the victory.
McGregor starts out slowly, but is taken down again. He’s able to fight back to his feet, but it’s halfway through the round and he sees the fight slipping from his hands. McGregor backs off and begins taunting Edgar, putting his hands down and urging him to hit him in the face (his face being a bloody mess). Edgar throws a combination, but it’s just a set up for a takedown, which opens him right up to a brutal knee to the face that puts him on the ground. McGregor doesn’t swarm, though, he stands over Edgar, screaming at him to get up.
Edgar stands back up, visibly wobbled only for McGregor to immediately pounce on him, raining down fury upon Edgar’s face until he crumples onto the mat and the ref has to peel McGregor off of him. Visual of a bloody McGregor on top of the cage holding his championship is all over the media that night.
During the post-fight interview McGregor calls out Aldo, inviting him to challenge him for his title in Ireland, claiming that Aldo’s had his time in Brazil and now it’s his time to not only defend his title at home, but to take away that “fake” title that Aldo has been carrying around with him.
March 14th vs. Jose Aldo
Yes, they book Jose Aldo vs. Conor McGregor in Ireland just days before St. Patrick’s Day at Aviva Stadium in Dublin (holds about 60,000 for football, closer to 70,000 for the cage and production setup). UFC felt unsure about the ability to fill up a stadium with Featherweights, but they were able to exceed expectations for the crowd. McGregor feels like a superstar going into the event, but many outside of Ireland believe that Aldo will be able to ultimately exploit the holes in McGregor’s game and grind him out to a decision.
The media is more and more embracing McGregor’s People’s Featherweight Championship, which he is bringing with him to every appearance he makes, even being photographed with it in public. Doubters are slowly beginning to believe after the win over Edgar, but many still see Aldo as the stopping point for the frate trane(TM) that is McGregor.
Fight time and Aldo looks sharp as always, while McGregor’s demeanor is that of a determined one. There is no cartwheel in the ring before the fight, he’s determined and focused. Aldo is able to effectively nullify most of McGregor’s offense for three whole rounds, which has a packed stadium in Dublin in a fervor. Commentary turns to talking about immediate disappointment in the crowd. Fears of a riot are real as reports of fights breaking out in the crowd are coming out and McGregor looks crestfallen before the fourth round.
The fourth round starts out the same, Aldo in control, keeping the distance, using his jab and leg kicks to keep McGregor from being able to mount any real offense until a left hand from McGregor finds the mark, stunning Aldo. Aldo staggers back into the cage only for McGregor to come roaring in with a huge knee that lands not on the chin, but the previously-injured shoulder. A left to the jaw follows up and Aldo is down and out. McGregor stumbles over him before collapsing mid-ring, slamming his fists down on the mat while the crowd has gone absolutely mental.
Conor McGregor is the UFC Champion, Conor McGregor is a national hero. He’s a superstar.
This is how you make a champion, this is how Conor McGregor becomes a champion and a legend. This is probably not what will happen, not what will happen at all, but hey, that is what fantasy booking is all about, right?