There's no doubting that Conor McGregor is definitely in shape, but how does he compare to other elite athletes? Pretty darn well, according to science.
As Conor McGregor gets set to face Diego Brandão this weekend, he was put through his paces by sports science expert, Professor Greg Whyte, in association with Sky Sports to examine from a scientific standpoint just how he compares to some of the other elite athletes in the world.
Unsurprisingly, McGregor excelled in a huge number of areas, with Whyte stating that "I’d describe MMA fighters as the complete package", adding that they show a huge amount of ability across a number of areas, a sort of jack-of-all-trades, but "the master of one – that one is fighting."
When it comes to comparisons, at 5'8" and 145lbs, McGregor's strength goes far beyond his frame, and is comparable to a rugby scrum-half in terms of his size to power ratio. His VO2 max "is similar to that of a Premier League midfielder", but that while they would run on average 10-12 km every game, McGregor competes for a maximum of 25 minutes. What makes him and other mixed martial artists so impressive, according to Whyte, is the ability to recover.
"Reaching your peak, then recovering, and peaking again is important in MMA...It is his ability to recover before returning to his peak which is impressive and those values are similar to those of footballers", Whyte told Sky.
He also compares favourably to Olympic cyclists thanks to his having an incredible anaerobic capacity (high-intensity activities performed over a short duration) but also an incredible strength-to-size ratio. Whyte put him through his paces and he preformed 23 full extension pull-ups and burpees in 30 seconds. If you've ever tried that, you'll know just how difficult that is, but if you haven't, then suffice to say it's a borderline physical freak territory.
While Whyte admits that studying MMA in the field of sports science is still pretty new, elite athletes like McGregor tend to have a psychological element to their preparation that is very difficult to measure: "what you cannot measure is their toughness or psychological capacity. All the elite athletes I work with have this capacity to drive themselves into the ground even when they are in pain".
McGregor took part in the study as part of promotional activities surrounding the launch of the new EA Sports UFC game, something for which we also interviewed him, and that mental toughness and ability is something that he stresses in our chat.
Via Sky Sports