Conor McGregor’s Biggest Year in MMA Coincided With Ireland’s Highest Medal Total at The IMMAF World Championships

Conor McGregor has long been known as the biggest name in the sport of Mixed Martial Arts, his ascension to UFC stardom and the pinnacle of the sport played a significant role in the explosion of MMA in Ireland, influencing generations of home grown grass roots talent.

2016 was McGregor’s biggest year in MMA to date. Having been crowned undisputed UFC featherweight (145lbs) champion with a KO victory over Jose Aldo in late 2015, McGregor’s subsequent rivalry with Nick Diaz spanned two bouts in 2016 and transcended to audiences far beyond MMA. McGregor’s triumph over Eddie Alvarez for the UFC lightweight title followed in November and was arguably McGregor’s most impressive display with a second round TKO of the highly regarded Alvarez upon entering the larger weight category (155lbs).

Combining the three events in which McGregor headlined during 2016, the former two-weight UFC champion generated approximately 4.45 million pay-per-view buys across UFC 196, UFC 202 and UFC 205, his highest total within a single year (not including the 2017 “Money Fight” foray into boxing against Floyd Mayweather).

2016 – Conor McGregor meets with IMMAF president Kerrith Brown (left) and CEO Densign White (right)

Meanwhile, Irish talent development was in full swing at the grass roots level and was embodied in Ireland’s national team, under the Irish MMA Association (IMMAA), competing at the 2016 IMMAF World Championships, the premier international level of amateur MMA.

Taking place during July of 2016 in Las Vegas, one month prior to Diaz vs. McGregor 2, Team Ireland achieved a historic third place finish in the IMMAF World Championships medal table, edging out the likes of Team USA and Team UK with an overall total of 6 medals, more than any other country.

Silver medalist David Fogarty alongside 2016 gold medal winner Brayden Graham (New Zealand) and bronze medalists Josh Neale (UK) and
Fahad Abdulrazaq (Bahrain).

Team Ireland took home three bronze medals courtesy of Hughie Orourke (men’s 135lbs), Cian Cowley (170lbs) and Eoghan Drumgoole (men’s 145lbs). Three Irish standouts reach the final of their respective divisions, Nathan Kelly achieved silver in the men’s 145lb featherweight tournament while BJJ specialist David Fogarty, who also achieved prominence as Conor McGregor’s personal photographer, earned silver in the men’s flyweight (125lb) division.

Light-heavyweight prospect Matthew Sheehan (pictured above), a product of Team Ryano MMA, clinched the 2016 world title at 205lbs, winning his fifth bout of the week-long tournament with a third-round TKO stoppage over Bulgarian powerhouse Tencho Karaenev.

By IMMAF.org lead writer: Jorden Curran

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