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Midnight Mania! SI ranks Conor McGregor 9th fittest athlete of 2018, ahead of Canelo, Modric, Westbrook

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This seems... wrong. Conor McGregor, who is not even close to the fittest athlete in mixed martial arts, was ranked the 9th fittest athlete in the world for 2018 by Sports Illustrated, ahead of athletes like Canelo Alvarez, Russell Westbrook, Luka Modric, triathlete Patrick Lange, and two-time Olympic gold medalist rower Hamish Bond.

To back up their claim, SI cited McGregor’s ability to compete in both boxing to mixed martial arts. There are a couple problems with that. Firstly, McGregor’s lone boxing match didn’t take place in 2018. Secondly, while McGregor certainly gave as good an account of himself as anyone could reasonably expect in terms of skill, Mayweather was still able to finish him... because he gassed. In McGregor’s lone MMA bout in 2018, he gassed again, giving up a fourth-round rear-naked choke to exhausting grappler Khabib Nurmagomedov. This is not the first trouble McGregor has had with his fitness. He lost to Nate Diaz at UFC 196 because he got tired and then Diaz rocked him; he struggled in the rematch to overcome the same symptoms of fatigue, but pressed through to a five-round victory in his most impressive display of fortitude to date. It is hard to imagine ranking McGregor 9th on any fitness list when his cardio-respiratory fitness is, in fact, a recurrent problem for him. You can read SI’s stated selection criteria here.

Sports Illustrated needn’t have looked far for a better delegate from mixed martial arts. The insanely conditioned Max Holloway, McGregor’s successor as featherweight champion, returned from a worrying health scare to set an all-time UFC record for the most strikes landed in a round and a fight. Robert Whittaker outlasted a clobbering from Yoel Romero due to his phenomenal conditioning in the Fight of the Year. Khabib Nurmagomedov destroyed both McGregor himself and Al Iaquinta with apparent ease. Dustin Poirier and Tony Ferguson both used their phenomenal conditioning to win tough, spectacular fights, as did UFC featherweight contender Alexander Volkanovski. If they want to cite an ability to compete in multiple combat sports, Israel Adesanya transitioned from an extremely successful kickboxing career to beat ranked mixed martial artists in impressive fashion within a year of his UFC debut. The point is, there are a lot of mixed martial artists Sports Illustrated could have chosen, but their only real metric appears to have been fame, in this case.


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Sleep well, Maniacs! A better tomorrow is always possible. Follow me on Twitter and Facebook @Vorpality

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