It’s the holiday season, and with the new year quickly approaching, Combat Press is taking a look back at the best of 2014. Throughout the week, Combat Press will announce its award winners in 16 different categories, covering everything from the action in the cage to the biggest stories surrounding the sport.
During the voting and nomination process for the Combat Press Breakout Fighter of the Year Award, one staff member commented on how Irishman Conor McGregor is only worthy of the honor if the criteria extends to McGregor’s notorious mouth. Well, there’s certainly no denying that the up-and-coming featherweight shot to fame as much for his words as for his actions in the cage, but those actions — two “Performance of the Night” first-round TKO victories, including one against Diego Brandao in a headlining gig in Dublin — certainly stand on their own to make McGregor a top contender and a candidate for this award.
McGregor has a style all his own and a way with words that tends to polarize fans. However, fans outside of Ireland and the United Kingdom hardly knew the flashy fighter before he made his 2013 debut inside the Octagon and scored a 67-second TKO finish of Marcus Brimage. He closed out 2013 with a decision victory over Max Holloway in Boston. By then, his following on a global scale was steadily increasing.
Then came his headlining spot in Dublin. The former two-division Cage Warriors champion delivered with the TKO of Brandao, but he also delivered in terms of ticket sales and ratings. UFC President Dana White made comments comparing McGregor to one of the UFC’s all-time biggest draws, Brock Lesnar, in terms of McGregor’s ability to draw fan interest.
McGregor returned to action in September and needed less than two minutes to hush Dustin Poirier. The fight was considered a major test, and McGregor passed it with ease. He continued to up the ante on the mic and draw eyes with his flashy wardrobe, but all the while he was marching up the rankings and into consideration as a legitimate contender for Jose Aldo’s featherweight belt.
Congratulations to Conor McGregor, the Combat Press selection for 2014 Breakout Fighter of the Year. It’s not often that a fighter emerges as a superstar and title contender after just four appearances in the UFC cage. However, that’s exactly what McGregor has done.
Other Finalists: T.J. Dillashaw, Rafael dos Anjos
Make sure you check out the rest of the Combat Press 2014 MMA Award winners.