This week UFC featherweight champion Conor McGregor becomes just the third MMA fighter to ever be featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated. McGregor graces the magazines’s cover with its name in all Irish green and the headline, "Conor McGregor puts the fight in Fighting Irish . . . and the fear in the rest of the UFC".
In the cover story, McGregor talks about reaching the top of MMA so quickly despite a humble start. "I just figured out that if I gave my all into this game — if I put everything into the fight business — then I would eventually run the fight business," he said.
"That’s where we are right now."
McGregor is in the midst of a roller-coaster week as his March 5 lightweight title challenge against champion Rafael dos Anjos was called off Tuesday after the Brazilian announced he’d broken a foot. That delay likely won’t stall McGregor’s star during it’s ascent, however.
Former bantmaweight champion Ronda Rousey recently appeared on the cover of the magazine’s annual swimsuit issue, and once before appeared on the cover. Other than that, former UFC lightweight was the only other fighter to be featured on the cover of the magazine.
The fight fiend Irishman discussed what got him into martial arts and how it became addictive to him. "I just wanted to be able to be comfortable and confident if someone said something to me or something happened: strike hard, strike fast, make my exit safely," he remembered.
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"Then what happens is that it becomes addictive."
McGregor had plenty to say about dos Anjos in the story. Despite the lightweight champion’s recent dominance, McGregor feels that he’s too much of a ring general to allow dos Anjos to bully him in the cage.
"In reality it will be a one-minute demolition job," he predicted.
"I’m going to press him. Many people don’t understand ring control. They think they do until they’re against someone who really understands how to set traps, how to create holes in the Octagon that they fall into. He will learn on March 5, and he will learn it pretty early."
Perhaps McGregor will still get his shot at dos Anjos, in the future. Regardless, his overall career plan will probably remain constant.
"Take all the belts, take all the money, ride back to beautiful Dublin, Ireland, into the sunset," he said, of how he wants his story to end.