Just days out from the biggest fight of the year, very few are giving Conor McGregor any chance at victory. Perhaps logically, this is the correct belief. But, if sport has taught us anything, it is that there are no guaranteed victories.
However many times we doubt Conor McGregor, he seems to always come up trumps. Each and every time he took to the octagon, the challenge became greater, as did the doubts. We’ve nearly always been proven wrong.
In sport, there are always favourites, and there are always underdogs. More often than not, the favourites do tend to emerge victorious. But every so often, we witness tremendous stories that make us believe.
Here are five of the greatest upsets in sporting history.
1. Euro 2004 – Greece
Having begun the tournament at odds of 150/1, very few would have tipped Greece to take home silverware from Euro 2004. Without a household name to call upon, this was a side expected to make an early exit.
However, they decided to pay no attention to the script written for them. Shocking hosts Portugal in the group stages. This 2-1 victory was followed up with a draw with Spain, before being defeated by Russia. Impressive, yet not unbelievable.
Things picked up for the Greeks in the knock-out stages of the tournament as they knocked out defending champions France.
This was followed up by victory over the Czech Republic in the semi-final – Greece had qualified for the final of Euro 2004.
A Portugal side that contained stars such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Figo were expected to finally put an end to the Greek hype train. However, just one goal was required to dismantle the hosts as Greece pulled off the impossible and became Euro 2004 champions.
2. Buster Douglas KO’s Tyson
Heavyweight boxing may be among the most dangerous for favourites. Due to the power possessed by each competitor, there is always a danger of being KO’d. This factor wasn’t taken into account prior to the unstoppable Mike Tyson’s bout with 42/1 underdog Buster Douglas.
To put Douglas’ odds into perspective, Conor McGregor, who is crossing over from a completely different sport is roughly 4/1 to defeat Floyd Mayweather. Buster Douglas was a boxer by trade, but ‘Iron Mike’ appeared unstoppable.
Tyson had never been knocked out prior to the bout, however complacency had kicked in with the champion. But in the tenth round of this fight, we saw Mike Tyson hit the deck as he was KO’d in his first title defence.
Douglas would also be unsuccessful in his attempt at defending the title, however, will always be remembered for this amazing night.
3. Japan defeat South Africa in the Rugby World Cup
As the Rugby World Cup kick-started in 2015, South Africa as always entered the tournament highly-fancied. In the Springboks tournament opener against Japan, their opponents were available at odds as high as 80/1, which very few people are likely to have backed.
Arguably the biggest upset in the sport of rugby, Japan shot out of the blocks to rattle the heavy favourites early. Yet, despite Japan’s encouraging start, they still found themselves trailing at the break by two points.
Still, as most expected South Africa to simply swat aside the Japanese in the second half, the underdogs refused to fade away. The second half produced even more magic, but in the dying embers of the game, South Africa led 30-27.
A lifeline was found and Japan were awarded a penalty. However, instead of kicking the three points, they went all out for the victory, and in the last play of the game managed to miraculously scored a try to cause the biggest upset of the summer.
4. Ronda Rousey KO’d by Holly Holm
Though she may not carry the aura she once did, there was a time in the very recent past where Ronda Rousey appeared invincible. Undefeated in her MMA career, ‘Rowdy’ Ronda Rousey was seen by many as the greatest female athlete of all-time.
Of her previous three title defences prior to this, Rousey had spent a combined time of just 64 seconds in the octagon. Yet, behind the image of invincibility, massive holes were to be found in the bantamweight champion’s game.
These flaws were exposed by former boxing world-champion Holly Holm. As the pair clashed in November 2015, Holm was to be yet another lamb to the slaughter. As it turned out, it was Rousey who became the punch-bag as the former champion was completely outclassed.
The fight was best summarised as Rousey dove into an attack only to be embarrassed by Holm who simply ducked out of the way. In the seconds after this, a head-kick KO’d Rousey and in all honesty ended the amazing journey that was Ronda Rousey’s MMA career.
5. Leicester City Premier League champions 2015/16
Will we ever see anything the likes of this again? 5000/1 outsiders Leicester City couldn’t imagine in their wildest dreams that they would be crowned Premier League champions in May 2016. This seemed even more unlikely considering they appeared destined for relegation the previous season.
In the beginning, it appeared Leicester had hit a rich grain of form, but would eventually wane. As the season went on, this belief continued, and with each rare defeat, it was tipped that this would be the end. Yet, they kept winning games.
As the season approached it’s end, just Tottenham were able to stick with the Foxes. However, defeat to Chelsea ended any hope of Spurs ending this fairy-tale. Leicester were crowned Premier League champions in the most unlikely story in sporting history.
Each member of the Leicester side had an underdog story to accompany them, including star players Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez and N’Golo Kante. Also, manager Claudio Ranieri had resurrected his career from a supposed runner-up to finally claim a league title.
It’s unlikely we’ll ever see a sporting upset the likes of this again, unless..
Kevin Daly, Pundit Arena