CONOR MCGREGOR retired from all fighting earlier this year as one of the most-feared UFC stars of all-time – but how hard did he punch?
Any MMA fighter confident enough to step into the octagon with arguably the globe’s greatest-ever boxer will undoubtedly have a handy left hook.
But exactly what McGregor’s opponents make of him is perhaps the most telling.
A UFC leaderboard in a fanzone before UFC 205 named Tyron Woodley as the hardest-hitting welter weight.
And Dustin Poirier once replied McGregor was “by far” the most powerful puncher when asked on Twitter.
Here, SunSport regales some telling stories from the Irishman’s former opponents.
In 2016, Nate Diaz ended the 15-fight winning streak that had made McGregor the world’s fiercest MMA fighter.
The American carried a wound into the Octagon and admitted afterwards that his rival took very little time to bust it open.
Diaz told Fox: “I had just fought in December and I had a cut [above my eye] from that Michael Johnson fight. It pretty much split right open.
“I didn’t really feel it at the time but I looked back on the fight and thought ‘Oh f***’.
“It was a real nice uppercut.
“My eye got blurry for a minute. In between rounds, they wiped it with ice. Then, in the second round, the ice water and blood came into my eyes and I couldn’t see s***.”
One of combat sport’s biggest-ever crossovers occurred when McGregor faced off with Mayweather in 2017.
A traditionally defensive fighter, the American actually claimed a technical knockout victory in the tenth round.
And afterwards he intimated that, while McGregor could hit hard, it was not something he feared too much in the ring.
Mayweather told reporters: “As far as his punching power – he’s solid.
“I’ve felt it before, so that’s why I kept coming straight ahead.
“Obviously, it wasn’t the type of power to say: ‘I can’t come forward.’ Because if it were that type of power, I wouldn’t have come forward.”
Like Mayweather, Paulie Malignaggi insisted McGregor should not be underestimated but nonetheless was not an otherworldly puncher.
He stated: “He’s not a weak puncher. People are dying for me to say, ‘Oh he hits hard!’ Oh, his big left hand.’ Listen, if Conor hits you, you’re going to feel it. He’s a grown man.
“I’d say he’s an above average puncher. If he lands a shot with 10oz gloves, it will probably get your attention. Is it ‘Oh my God power’? No, ‘Oh my God power’ is very rare.
“I’ve sparred thousands of rounds in my life, I’ve sparred hundreds of people in my life… the amount people that I sparred that had ‘Oh my God power’ is probably only a handful.
“More than anything he’s accurate and I think that’s what plays into the success he has with his punches.
“Nothing was like overwhelmingly powerful. I mean, he’s got power. He’s more accurate I’d say than anything.”
At UFC 194, Jose Aldo was knocked out by McGregor’s punches after just 13 seconds.
The tactics deployed by the Brazilian in that infamous one-round affair can be called into question as he felt the full force of The Notorious’ fist.
But he still doesn’t consider him one of the sport’s all-time hardest hitters.
Aldo recalled: “He has a good punch, but he cannot say that he is the biggest puncher, and the MMA gloves are tiny. They are four ounces.”
McGregor’s striking coach Owen Roddy has honed the 32-year-old’s punch power and describes him as a “unique” fighter.
Able to dodge and react lightning fast, he can reliably use up his energy reserves in just a few rounds, according to Roddy.
He noted: “McGregor has really long arms and he uses them very well to keep people at bay. He also has very fast twitch fibres in his muscles.
“Conor has a unique style. A wide stance is not common in boxing but it is in combat. Conor is like a sprinter. He is fast and explosive, but it is hard to maintain that for five rounds.
“He often doesn’t need to last that long because of his habit of putting people to sleep.
“He has unbelievable power. When I used to spar with him, almost every punch felt like it was from a man twice his size.”
In the same vein, one of the last men to lose a fight with McGregor believes his sheer power is not his greatest asset.
Eddie Alvarez, who succumbed to the Irishman in 2016’s UFC 205, suffered a technical knockout in the second round after a barrage of punches.
He told reporters post-fight: “It was more his speed.
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“I got dropped a couple of times, the first time I got dropped I remember being on my butt and thinking: ‘Wow, that was quick. Whatever that was it was fast’.
“I’ve been there plenty of times in my career where I get dropped. I don’t panic. I keep my composure and get back up.
“His speed and timing were very good; you could tell he’s got years of boxing behind him.”