Tom Hogan/INPHO
you'll do nothing

Sports Person of the Year 2016: Why Conor McGregor deserves his place on the shortlist

Thanks for the cheese.

THE SHORTLIST FOR RTÉ Sports Person of the Year is packed with worthy contenders.  Adrian Russell keeps it flowey with this Conor McGregor endorsement…

STRIP AWAY THE Instagram filter on Conor McGregor’s Hollywood 2016 and what’s left in the lens?

Two belts.

A compelling redemption story that added an arc to a previously straightforward narrative.

And easily one of the most impressive years from an Irish athlete.

Just over a year ago McGregor took just 13 seconds to end Jose Aldo’s decade-long life as featherweight division belt.

(Or 23seconds if you count some sharp commenters on The42 who waited ’til big John McCarthy’s count was done before accepting the result.)

From there, things got even more interesting.

From a fascinating pairing with lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos all we were left with was the memorable and oft-quoted ‘tell your wife it’s a red panty night’ line.

Conor McGregor scores a basket during his workout Tom Hogan / INPHO Tom Hogan / INPHO / INPHO

RDA pulled out injured and Nate Diaz was called off the beach or triathlon bike to fill a gap that Aldo and Frankie Edgar declined.

A rear naked choke saw the younger Diaz brother join the likes of Schillaci and Gabriella Szabo in Irish sporting history after less than two rounds.

If Stallone scripted this tale, the next montage would see a refocused McGregor running the roads in a grey hoodie. He may still have employed the services of Ido Portal for the rematch but from the outside the camp, the emphasis was strongly placed on cardio and technical work rather than ‘playing touch butt with that weirdo in the park’ as Diaz would describe Portal’s mobility work.

Conor McGregor Tom Hogan / INPHO Tom Hogan / INPHO / INPHO

After a tedious mid-summer retirement episode that flared up due to the UFC’s media demands, McGregor returned to the Octagon and Las Vegas to beat Diaz at UFC 202.

Besides the fact that the night broke PPV records and attendance figures numbers, McGregor’s majority decision after five epic rounds was an impressive sporting feat that deserves recognition.

The Dubliner rounded out his year — and probably the first act in his MMA career — with a facile win over Eddie Alvarez. There will be, but another win in Donnybrook should not prompt any complaints.

Read more of the SPOTY 2016 profiles here >

Your Voice
Readers Comments
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.