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The Celtic Cross: McGregor’s Deceptive Boxing


The Celtic Cross: McGregor’s Deceptive Boxing

If we had to describe Conor McGregor’s fighting style in one word, it would be deceptive.

You may say that stylish, wild, or any other number of adjectives would fit as well, but I disagree.

McGregor is, as a fighter, a counter-striker. He baits his opponents into his range and land his most effective weapon, the left cross.

The Celtic cross knocks out Jose Aldo

The Celtic cross knocks out Jose Aldo


This style was even more evident in his pre-UFC days, most notable in the Ivan Buchinger knockout. When he arrived in the UFC, he used the same style to much effect against Marcus Brimage in his debut.


Watch how he baits an emotional reaction with holding his hands open, when in reality, they are ready to launch a strike as soon as the opponent loses his cool.

Conor McGregor knocks out Ivan Buchinger

Conor McGregor knocks out Ivan Buchinger

McGregor lands a counter on Marcus Brimage

McGregor lands a counter on Marcus Brimage

Just beautiful.

After that, he seemingly transitioned into a more aggressive fighter, plodding forward, constantly pressing the attack, always being first.

However, that was his style all along. Conor is not only a counter-striker, he is an aggressive counter-striker. He uses his constant pressure to bully fighters and force them into exchanges, where he is suddenly gone and they have been hit with a counter-punch. What makes this style possible is his excellent use of range.

A big part of his game are the flashy capoeira techniques and the teakwondo kicks. The spinning back kick, which more closely resembles a mule kick that a traditional TKD technique, is also much faster and McGregor has used it effectively again opponents of similar size, where the ribs are at just the right height to dig his heel in.

Conor's spinning kick to Brandao's ribs

Conor’s spinning kick to Brandao’s ribs

In the Diaz fight, he abandoned the spinning back kick and instead went head-hunting with a wheel kick, which did not have the anticipated effect, as they never went close to Nate.

The unusual techniques also play a role in his distance control: they are meant to confuse the opponent thinking it is safe to move in, when in fact, a counter is ready, waiting for them

McGregor's control of range against Diego Brandao

McGregor’s control of range against Diego Brandao

And here comes in the Celtic cross: the weapon that took out Jose Aldo, Chad Mendes and Dustin Porier to name just few.

Does it have the power to take out Nate Diaz this time? Or will the fight end same as the last one? Or, could we even see a decision?

Stay tuned for more UFC 202 news, analysis, training footage and betting odds.

A fan of MMA since 2012, Klemen has been training in various martial arts for about the same time. He is currently residing in South Korea, where he is learning the famous kicks of Taekwondo. When not showing pads who's boss, he likes to argue on discussion boards.

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