A look at the careers of two of the Emerald Isle’s finest fighters.
It’s been a difficult few months (or even years) for the biggest stars in the history of Irish combat sports. 35-year-old MMA star Conor McGregor hasn’t stepped into the Octagon since July 2021, when a brutal broken ankle spelt doom in his second straight loss against Dustin Poirier.
Katie Taylor, on the other hand, is one of the greatest boxers in history, beginning her professional career with a perfect 22-win streak and holding a number of world titles for much of the past decade.
That winning streak came to a crashing halt in May, though, when the 37-year-old fighter fell to English boxer Chantelle Cameron via majority decision.
Here’s a look at the respective careers of two of the Emerald Isle’s finest fighters, as well as what could come next as they both enter the back nine of their illustrious careers.
Katie Taylor – County Wicklow’s finest
Katie Taylor grew up in Bray, on the coast just south of Dublin. She comes from a family tradition of boxing lovers, as her father, an electrician by trade, doubled as a champion boxer in Ireland, later going on to train Taylor, his youngest child, to follow in his footsteps.
Her mother ended up pursuing a partial career in the sport as well, becoming one of the first women to referee and judge boxing matches in Ireland.
One of the best Irish boxers of all time, Taylor spent the first decade of her career on the amateur circuit, winning a trophy cabinet full of gold medals (18, to be exact), including one at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
After a third-place finish in the 2016 World Amateur Championships, Taylor made the jump to the professional circuit, winning her first world championship less than a year after making the move as she began her 22-match winning streak.
While many athletes of a talent level similar to Taylor live the high life, hosting lavish parties and driving fancy cars, Taylor stays true to her roots, spending lots of time with her family. A devout Pentecostal, Taylor focuses on her family, God, and her training rather than the splendours of fame.
Conor McGregor – Dublin’s controversial son
McGregor, on the other hand, has never shied away from making a scene: whether you love ‘The Notorious’ or love to hate him, no one can deny that he knows how to wrap the media around his finger thanks to his outspoken style.
He grew up a few miles north of Taylor in Crumlin, attending schools that taught the Irish language, a passion he shares with Taylor.
The Notorious began boxing at the age of 12, looking to defend himself against bullies because of his rough-and-tumble upbringing.
The decision clearly paid off, as his boxing background paved his way to the pinnacle of mixed martial arts as an adult, winning featherweight and lightweight championships as a mixed martial artist for UFC and compiling a 22-6 professional record.
Since reaching the heights of UFC, he’s started to come back down to earth, losing four of his last seven matches and becoming embroiled in controversy with a number of arrests.
As he continues to deal with the fallout of his behaviour, it looked for a while like McGregor might never make it back to the Octagon, but the rumour mill has picked up in recent months, with a new potential opponent on the table.
Despite the negative press, McGregor is one of the biggest names in MMA and is rumoured to fight UFC lightweight contender Michael Chandler this December, although it has not been confirmed yet.
McGregor and Chandler squared off this season as coaches on The Ultimate Fighter reality TV show, and sportsbook promos will come in handy once his upcoming fight is officially announced and for any other upcoming UFC fights.
What’s next? – what the future holds for these fighters
Whether McGregor will be ready to face off against Chandler by the end of the year still seems up in the air, as questions have been raised about his ability to pass an anti-doping test.
While both parties are interested in a bout, he’d have to clear his system of any illicit substances before stepping back into the ring. At this point, McGregor doesn’t even need fighting: he’s a superstar in his own right. Although, hopefully he starts making better decisions outside the Octagon.
Taylor, meanwhile, is set for a rematch with Cameron: after the tight decision, it’ll be interesting to see if she can avenge her first-ever professional loss.
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