5 stylistic adjustments that Conor McGregor should make to find success upon his UFC return

While there’s no concrete date for it just yet, MMA superstar Conor McGregor‘s UFC return seems to be edging closer, and this week saw the Irishman upload a clip of him kicking a bag with his once-broken leg.

When he returns to the UFC, Conor McGregor will undoubtedly want to get back to the top of the mountain, but will he need to make some stylistic adjustments to do so?

Based on what we’ve seen of him recently, ‘The Notorious’ probably needs to make a number of changes if he’s ever to get back to the form that he produced in his early days in the octagon.

With that in mind, here are five adjustments Conor McGregor needs to make to find success upon his UFC return.

# 5. Conor McGregor should take an easier bout to start with to build his confidence

McGregor has not won a fight since his 2020 win over Donald Cerrone
McGregor has not won a fight since his 2020 win over Donald Cerrone

While nothing has been confirmed yet, the kind of names that have been mentioned as opponents for Conor McGregor’s comeback fight aren’t exactly low-profile.

While fights between McGregor and the likes of Michael Chandler and Charles Oliveira would draw big money, it could be argued that they don’t make sense for ‘The Notorious’.

He’s still the biggest superstar in the UFC right now, but it shouldn’t be forgotten that McGregor hasn’t won a fight since his January 2020 victory over Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone. Prior to that, his last win came over Eddie Alvarez back in 2016.

Therefore, despite all of his bluster, it’s highly likely that deep down, McGregor needs a confidence boost. The only way to get that boost will be to pick up a victory inside the octagon.

Could that victory come against someone like Chandler or Oliveira? Possibly, but based on the Irishman’s recent form, it seems doubtful. With that considered, it could be smarter for him to ask the UFC for an easier opponent instead.

The promotion could still find ‘The Notorious’ a semi-big name who’d be beatable. Tony Ferguson, for instance, might work, or Matt Brown if McGregor wants to compete at 170 pounds. It’d be unlikely to affect the drawing ability of the fight.

A win would naturally put McGregor right back on track, and even if it came against a lesser opponent, it’d be able to set him up for a much bigger fight – perhaps even a title shot – in the long term.

# 4. Conor McGregor needs to stop focusing so much on his boxing

Conor McGregor should focus less on boxing and more on his overall MMA skills
Conor McGregor should focus less on boxing and more on his overall MMA skills

While Conor McGregor’s coffin-nail left hand has always been his most dangerous strike, the Irishman’s rise up the ladder in the UFC was based around a much more rounded skillset.

In his early days with the promotion, McGregor was renowned for his timing, movement and precision. He’d often look to set up his big punches with unorthodox strikes like spinning kicks, as well as more common shots like leg kicks.

However, largely since his excursion into the squared circle for his fight with Floyd Mayweather in 2017, ‘The Notorious’ seems to have become so focused on his boxing skills that the rest of his arsenal has suffered.

McGregor isn’t the first fighter to end up shifting his game in this way, as a similar thing happened to Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jacksonand it didn’t really benefit him, either.

With that in mind, the Irishman would definitely be smart to re-focus his game towards more of a varied arsenal, bringing back his kicks and focusing less on power punching and more on his timing and movement.

That would make him far less predictable, and in turn, would make him a far more dangerous prospect for his potential opponents.

# 3. Conor McGregor should work on his ground game

Conor McGregor has struggled on the ground in the octagon at times
Conor McGregor has struggled on the ground in the octagon at times

While there’s no shame in losing by submission to great grapplers like Nate Diaz and Khabib Nurmagomedovit’s probably fair to suggest that Conor McGregor’s biggest weakness is his ground game.

‘The Notorious’ does have somewhat underrated takedown defense – he’s actually only been taken down on eleven occasions during his 14-fight UFC career – but when he has been planted on his back, he’s looked largely like a fish out of water.

In his third fight with Dustin Poirier, for instance, McGregor simply couldn’t get anything going from his back aside from a weak guillotine choke attempt. That allowed ‘The Diamond’ to openly abuse him with strikes.

Essentially, when you consider how dangerous his striking game is, it’s likely that any potential opponent of the Irishman would want to take him down. Rather than just an attempt to avoid that, then, why not try to turn a weakness into strength?

Sure, it’s unlikely that ‘The Notorious’ will ever become a deadly grappler like Charles Oliveirabut simply working on his submission game overall could help him massively and could allow him to take a potential opponent by surprise.

If McGregor’s UFC comeback indeed does not happen until 2023, this would be the perfect time for him to really hone his ground game, giving him another weapon in his arsenal for when he does return.

# 2. Conor McGregor should look to improve his cardio

Conor McGregor appeared to tire in his second fight with Dustin Poirier
Conor McGregor appeared to tire in his second fight with Dustin Poirier

Given that Conor McGregor’s biggest wins in the UFC largely came in the early rounds – with his most famous knockout over Jose Aldo taking just 13 seconds – it’s probably fair to say that the Irishman isn’t a fighter who is used to going the distance.

In fact, there’s probably an argument that the biggest weakness hanging over ‘The Notorious’ is his cardio, as he has appeared to gas out on more than one occasion during his octagon career.

While he beat Nate Diaz in a five-round thriller in 2016, there was no doubt that he was exhausted during the fight and did most of his best work in the early rounds.

Exhibit B: McGregor vs Diaz II 🤯One of the greatest fights we’ve ever seen in the Octagon.We want the trilogy 😭https://t.co/nZZHYdYFBG

He also tired in his first fight with Diaz and was notably gassed in his second fight with Dustin Poirier prior to being knocked out in the second round.

Therefore, perhaps it’d be an idea for McGregor to work heavily on his cardio, not in order to take his opponents into the later rounds, but more to allow him to move around the octagon at a faster speed more freely, without fear of tiring out.

If McGregor’s punching power could hold up into the later rounds, particularly as any fight he takes at this stage is likely to be a five-round one, then he’d be much more dangerous than he currently is. More importantly, he wouldn’t need to learn any new skills to improve in this area either.

# 1. Conor McGregor should not brawl with his opponents

Conor McGregor does not appear to be as durable as he once was
Conor McGregor does not appear to be as durable as he once was

While he’s only made sporadic appearances in the octagon in recent years, Conor McGregor has actually been around the sport of MMA for a long time. He debuted in Ireland back in March 2008, meaning he’s been competing for well over a decade and he’s been in the UFC for over nine years now too.

Given that he turns 34 years old in July, while it’s arguable that he’s still in his athletic prime, it’s also true that ‘The Notorious’ is no longer a younger fighter.

Add in the fact that he’s taken a number of huge shots over the years and was knocked out by Dustin Poirier in 2021, it’s probably safe to say he’s less durable than he once was.


Taking that into account, then, one thing McGregor ought to do upon his return to the UFC is to avoid openly brawling with his opponent at all costs.

Sure, ‘The Notorious’ still carries brutal knockout power and could probably turn the lights out on any fighter if he were to land cleanly, but given the way his chin was cracked by Poirier, it’d be hugely risky to pursue such a gameplan .

Instead, the Irishman would be far better off getting back to the skills that took him to the top in the first place, using his movement and timing to baffle his opponents before catching them on the counter.

Not only could this approach help him win his comeback fight, but it could also help to prolong his UFC career overall, too.

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