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'Inflategate' - The International Media Reaction To Conor McGregor's Shock Defeat

PJ Browne
By PJ Browne
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Conor McGregor fell to the first loss of his UFC career - the third in total of his MMA career - on Saturday night.

It was a shock loss for the Dubliner. He went into the first as 1/4 favourite with the bookies and was facing an opponent taking the fight on 11 days notice.

It is a defeat which has taken a sheen of the McGregor hype train. Gone are thoughts of a welterweight title fight against Robbie Lawler and also likely a bout with lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos - who he was originally scheduled to face at UFC 196.

Instead, it is most probable the 27-year-old will return to featherweight for a defence of his title against either Jose Aldo or Frankie Edgar.

Here's how the international media has reacted to McGregor's loss.

Les Carpenter, writing for the Guardian, believes McGregor's brazenness in accepting the Diaz fight was his downfall.

But vanity had gotten the best of McGregor. When Rafael Dos Anjos had pulled out of this fight two weeks ago, McGregor could have insisted upon a safer fighter in his weight class. Yet he wanted something bigger than another 145lbs fighter, he wanted something grander, something more befitting of the biggest name in the sport. He took on a much bigger, well-trained man and paid heavily for his hubris.

According to Victor Rodriguez of Bloody Elbow, McGregor may have fallen to the third defeat of his MMA career, but in other ways - mainly monetarily - he is a winner.

Brother got paid thick stacks to stay in the main event and get what we can reasonably expect to be monster PPV numbers. Yes, he lost - but it was outside his division on less than two weeks' notice. It may not pass for fans like you or me as good reasoning, but it's defensible PR. No title was on the line, and we all watched anyway. Guess what? It was awesome. He's still the biggest star in the sport, still transcends the usual MMA media to end up on CNBC of all places to hype the fight. You think Max Holloway could get that kind of exposure to the sport? And that's Max Holloway we're talking about - one of the most phenomenal talents we have in the sport overall. He'll go back to featherweight and keep putting on fantastic fights while pulling down major bank. That's still a winner.


Jeff Wagenheim of Sports Illustrated has titled Saturday night's events as 'Inflategate' - a reminder of why we have weight classes.


The New England Patriots and the NFL have Deflategate. Conor McGregor and the UFC have Inflategate, which is what happens when you take a 145-pound fighter, pump him up with a lot of hot air, and try to sell him as something bigger.

The sight of McGregor being cut down to size by Nate Diaz in the main event of UFC 196 on Saturday night in Las Vegas was a stark reminder that the partitions between big fighters and not-so-big fighters exist for a reason. No longer are we in the one-size-fits-all era when skinny Royce Gracie was choking out muscleheads or twisting 500-pound sumo wrestlers into submission. The closer to sporting legitimacy that mixed martial arts has crept, the more the playing field has been leveled.

Damon Martin of Fox Sports writes that Saturday night's loss will send the Dubliner back to 145 and could propel Nate Diaz into a 155 title fight.


The results of UFC 196 turn the entire promotion on its head after both McGregor and Holm fell to defeat. Considering how things played out on Saturday night, it's hard to imagine McGregor won't return to featherweight now to defend his title following an unsuccessful attempt to move up and conquer a new division.

Following such a monumental win, Diaz likely will have his pick of fights and he might even get a second crack at Rafael dos Anjos with the lightweight title on the line.

MMA Fighting's Luke Thomas was surprised by McGregor's desperation move against Diaz - a takedown attempt.


McGregor's decision to fight at 170 has been called hubris. However, Dave Doyle of MMA Fighting feels McGregor should be praised for this decision, especially in the wake of the recent debacle which saw both Cain Velasquez and Fabricio Werdum pull out of heavyweight title fights.

The UFC featherweight champion's audacity, his willingness to dream big, and his fearlessness in chasing after it have fueled another MMA boom. Eventually, he was going to fly too close to the sun. His wings were finally clipped Saturday night when he ran into someone every bit as fearless – someone who happened to be physically larger – in Nate Diaz.

It would be easy to call McGregor a once-in-a-generation talent, but we shouldn't have to call him that. If instead of playing it safe, more high-level fighters took an occasional McGregoresque risk -- or took on all comers like Nick and Nate Diaz, for that matter -- nights as exciting as UFC 196 could be closer to the norm instead of the exception. And said fighters might start making McGregoresque money, too. And still be in position to draw, even in the wake of a major defeat.

Picture credit: Mark J. Rebilas / SPORTSFILE

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