Though there were a few MMA fighters who took the opportunity to ridicule or call out Conor McGregor following his performance against Floyd Mayweather Jr. on Saturday night, like Brazilians Jose Aldo and Rafael dos Anjos, most in the MMA community commended the Irishman for his brave but ultimately unsuccessful effort to inflict the first blemish upon Mayweather’s perfect professional boxing record.
Among those to offer praise for McGregor through social media was former UFC light-heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier, who took to Twitter with the following kind words for the SBG Ireland fighter:
“@TheNotoriousMMA u are the man brother!! U fought the best of our time in his game and fought like a champ. We are all proud of you. DC.”
— Daniel Cormier (@dc_mma) August 27, 2017
During an appearance on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani, Cormier expanded further upon this point.
“When I was watching Conor fight, I felt this sense of pride – I was actually proud of him,” said ‘D.C’, who, pre-fight, had spoken rather pessimistically about McGregor’s chances of having any real success in the face of Mayweather’s defensive wizardry.
“I didn’t expect him to do as well as he did, and when I watched him out there, and I watched him look good in there, and watched him hold himself high, and give a good account himself, I was like, man, look at him, look at how professional [he is],” added Cormier. “He didn’t just chase money, he went out there and tried to win a fight against the greatest boxer, I think, of all time. He went out there and he looked the part. He carried himself well in the promotion, the build-up, after the fight, and in the fight he fought well.”
“But, again, Floyd won. He won. It was clear what he was doing, he was trying to let Conor punch himself out and ended up getting the finish. But, yeah man, I was very proud of [McGregor]. You know, he went out there and he represented himself and the UFC and every other guy with a great deal of class and dignity, and he did a fantastic job. So, I felt like, as a guy that’s been in the sport for a long time, a guy that every time I’m in contact with Conor it’s only respect – he is such a respectful guy – I wanted him to – if he got [the message], I know his coach [John Kavanagh] pays quite a lot of attention – see that we are very proud of him as a mixed martial arts community, because he has nothing to hold his head down about. He fought the greatest of all time and won rounds.”
So convinced was Cormier that McGregor would be outclassed by Mayweather, he even considered taking former UFC heavyweight and full-time Conor McGregor cheerleader Brendan Schaub up on a wager he offered to HBO boxing commentator Max Kellerman.
Kellerman claimed pre-fight that Conor would not land a single clean punch on Floyd, inspiring an offer of a $100,000 bet from Schaub that McGregor would not only land punches but win rounds against the defensive maestro.
“I mean, when Brendan Schaub put that bet up against [Kellerman] that [McGregor] would win rounds, I was like, I’ll take the bet,” said Cormier. “And I would have lost a lot of money to Brendan Schaub because Conor won some rounds. He won some rounds and he did a fantastic job man. We are all proud of him. We are all proud of what he did out there on Saturday.”
According to Compubox, McGregor landed 111 punches on Mayweather before getting stopped in the tenth round. That’s 30 more than Manny Pacquiao struck Mayweather with back in May of 2015 and just 6 less than Mexican superstar Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez landed on the Michigan-native in September of 2013. Pacquiao brought the experience of 65 professional fights into the ring with him to face Mayweather, while Alvarez was a 44-fight veteran when he fought Floyd. McGregor was making his pro boxing debut and most felt he was destined for a one-sided beating.
One can certainly understand, then, why Cormier is proud of the 29-year-old from Crumlin.