Coach Mark Henry sat, staring through the holes of the octagon fence in a state of joyless awe last Saturday night in New York’s hallowed Madison Square Garden, as Conor McGregor bamboozled and battered his helpless charge Eddie Alvarez to a second round KO defeat at UFC 205.
Having seen the sublime display at close quarters, Henry, once a vocal detractor of McGregor’s, can’t seem to compliment the UFC’s first two-weight champion enough. During a recent interview with SiriusXM Rush, the New Jersey-based striking guru even went as far as to compare McGregor’s “perfect swing” to that of baseball great Babe Ruth.
Another man who was sitting cageside, although perhaps not at such close proximity to the action, was top UFC welterweight contender Demian Maia.
Like Henry, Maia, who predicted an Alvarez victory prior to the fight, was extremely impressed with what he saw from the bombastic 28-year-old. So much so, that he too was inspired to make a flattering comparison between McGregor and another sportsman of some repute.
“He’s a great fighter, you know,” Maia told MMAFighting. “He proved that in the last fight. His control of distance reminded me of Anderson [Silva] in his prime.”
That is quite the compliment, as Silva’s judgement of range appeared damn near supernatural during his terrifying and lengthy reign over the middleweight division.
And Maia knows that only too well.
In April of 2010, when he was still campaigning at 185lbs, Maia lost a unanimous decision to the amazing arachnid in Abu Dhabi and he tasted a generous sampling of Silva’s violent talents. Although, it should be noted, that this was confined mainly to the early stages of the fight, as the often frustrating Silva did little more than dance around self-indulgently during the later rounds.
Despite making comparisons between McGregor and Silva, whom Maia believes is the greatest of all-time, the Brazilian doesn’t seem to feel that ‘The Notorious’ one would fair well up at 170lbs – due to the size disparity he would encounter. But, though McGregor has suggested that a welterweight title challenge could be in his future, Maia doesn’t believe the Dubliner is serious about a return to the weight division where he twice fought Nate Diaz this year.
“No I don’t think he is going,” said Maia. “Guys are way too big for him.”
“I think he wouldn’t go up. He has more interesting fights to do. He is asking about [Floyd] Mayweather in boxing. He could do a rematch with Nate. He can defend his title against [Jose] Aldo or Khabib [Nurmagomedov]. So I don’t think he will go up.”