Katie Taylor is going to great lengths to compare fellow countryman Conor McGregor to “The Greatest.”

In a recent interview with “The MMA Hour,” the Olympic gold medalist and undisputed lightweight champion Taylor (20-0, 6 KOs) said McGregor deserves more credit for his accolades than he’s received. 

“I messaged [McGregor] after the Dustin Poirier fight, just to offer some words of encouragement really,” said Taylor. “He’s always been a fantastic support to me, but I think he’s just someone who’s actually transcended the sport. He’s like, for me, the Muhammad Ali of the UFC. He’s just a fantastic athlete. A great businessman as well. But what he’s done in the sport and the UFC has been absolutely incredible, and I don’t think he’s celebrated as much as he should be here in Ireland. I think he is an absolute global superstar and just a phenomenal athlete, and he’s always been a complete gentleman toward me.”

This is not the first time McGregor has been compared to Ali. 

Before the Irishman was a two-division UFC world champion, he was billed as the “Irish Muhammad Ali,” most notably in promotional spots on FOX in 2015 when the MMA company had a television deal with the network

“Conor McGregor is the master of mental warfare,” UFC president Dana White said in 2018. “I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: He’s better than anybody. Even Ali. You don’t want to say anybody’s better than Ali, but I think when it comes to the mental war game in this sport, or any other sport, Conor McGregor is the best ever.”

McGregor has appeared uneasy when Ali comparisons have come up in the past. 

“I always appreciate the comparison,” McGregor said in 2018 ahead of his UFC 229 bout against Khabib Nurmagomedov. “I’m quick to say I am not anywhere close to Muhammad Ali. That was a special man. I am just a simple, young kid from Crumlin, Dublin, Ireland. And I’m here looking for a fight.”

The mystique around McGregor has subsided in recent years due to losses in the cage and in the boxing ring, as well as his run-ins with the law. 

McGregor has lost three out of his last four fights in the UFC since 2016, with his lone win coming against a faded Donald Cerrone in 2020. He lost twice to Dustin Poirier this year, with the most recent defeat in July resulting in a broken leg of which he’s still rehabilitating. 

In the boxing ring, McGregor suffered a TKO loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr. in a highly lucrative bout in 2017. A boxing match with Manny Pacquiao was also entertained and went deep into negotiations, but it never materialized. 

“I know that he’s trained at Crumlin Boxing Club an awful lot, a place where I actually trained on a regular occasion as an amateur boxer as well,” said Taylor. “I used to go there on a regular occasion for sparring sessions, so that’s obviously a connection that we have.

“But I’m looking at him as just a phenomenal athlete, and someone who I generally think has transcended the sport, someone who’s become bigger than the sport. Nearly every time he does fight, it’s an absolutely huge event. He still gets the highest number of pay-per-view figures and he’s still the highest-paid athlete in the UFC. I just look at him as just an outstanding athlete, and I can’t wait to see him come back.”

Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist, writer and broadcast reporter. He’s also a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and MMA Journalists Association. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan, via email at manouk[dot]akopyan[at]gmail.com or on www.ManoukAkopyan.com