A black belt is one of the highest ranks in BJJ. Connor McGregor is one of the most famous MMA competitors. I was curious what belt Connor McGregor is in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, and here’s what I found.
Conor McGregor is a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ). Conor McGregor was awarded his brown belt by his coach John Kavanagh, a BJJ black belt under Matt Thornton, founder of Straight Blast Gym (SBG). In 2020, John Kavanagh said that Conor Mcgregor would get his black belt soon.
In this article, I will explain when Conor McGregor got his brown belt, how long it usually takes for someone to go from a brown belt to a black belt, and how good Conor McGregor’s BJJ is.
Is Conor McGregor Good at Jiu-Jitsu?
Being good at jiu-jitsu is a big advantage in MMA. Jiu-jitsu takes many years to get very good at, and some competitors in MMA are world champions. But, how does Connor McGregor compare, and is good at jiu-jitsu?
Overall, Conor McGregor is good at jiu-jitsu. Conor McGregor is a brown belt, which is one belt below a black belt. He was awarded his brown belt from a very reputable BJJ instructor, John Kavanagh, who is a 4-stripe black belt in BJJ.
Typically a person who gets their brown belt only has it for 1 to 2 years before they get awarded their black belt. A brown belt is very close in skill level to a black belt. It’s common in BJJ tournaments to see brown belts competing against black belts.
Connor McGregor was awarded his brown belt in BJJ by John Kavanagh in 2014. Here’s the tweet that shows it:
This occurred more than 8 years ago. From the tweet, you can see that the brown belt he got had his name embroidered on it. This shows that John Kavanagh had been planning to give Conor his brown belt quite recently.
It’s a bit strange that Connor McGregor has not yet been awarded his black belt in BJJ. There definitely must be a reason. However, John Kavanagh is remaining very tight-lipped about when Connor McGregor will get his black belt (source).
Conor McGregor’s BJJ lineage – who gave his coach his black belt
Lineage is quite an important thing because it shows the value of the belts that you get awarded. As you may know, BJJ was primarily spread around the world by the Gracie family. Or, people who learned from the Gracie family and opened their own schools.
It saw a big explosion in popularity with the first UFC, created by Gracie family member Rorion Gracie. The first Gracies arrived in the USA in 1972. The lineage of Connor McGregor is as follows:
Connor McGregor > John Kavanagh > Matt Thornthon > Chris Haueter > Rigan Machado > Carlos Gracie Jnr.
Rigan Machado is a cousin of the Gracie family. The ‘Machado brothers’ report in interviews that they basically grew up as Gracies. They just had a different last name. Therefore, they can be considered fairly equivalent if not exactly the same.
You may have heard of Eddie Bravo who is good friends with Joe Rogan of the Joe Rogan podcast. Eddie Bravo got awarded his black belt from Rigan Machado’s brother, Jean Jacques Machado.
How Conor McGregor’s jiu-jitsu compares to other MMA fighters
Anyone’s jiu-jitsu skill can easily be tested in a one-on-one grappling match. This is one way that professors (black belts) can gauge how well a person compares. Their skills can be tested against themselves, the professor. Or, against other higher-ranking belts. This is typically done every day in sparring.
In BJJ there is a total curriculum that is taught. But, then there is sparring and drilling which builds subtle reflexes. These help a person to anticipate the moves the other person is going to do. They can also have an overall strategy that is superior. For example, they can have a ‘rope a dope’ strategy where they tire the opponent out. Then eventually can win because their opponent is too tired to defend.
There are competitors in the UFC who are black belt world champions in BJJ. Such as Demian Maia. These fighters would be far superior at grappling than Conor McGregor. But, his grappling is superior to say Derrick Lewis (heavyweight), who is a blue belt in BJJ. Or, Israel Adesanya, who is a purple belt in BJJ.
Conor McGregor’s fighting style is very much striking based. Conor McGregor has a background in competitive boxing. And MMA commentators, and high-level trainers such as Firas Zihabi, say that Conor McGregor’s left hand is one of his best weapons. He is also incredibly good at kicking.
What Does Conor McGregor Think of BJJ?
MMA fighters tend to have different martial arts backgrounds. For example, some are predominantly trained in grappling, whereas, others are predominantly trained in striking. Connor McGregor is particularly good at striking, so here’s what he thinks of BJJ.
Overall, Conor McGregor thinks very highly of BJJ. He trains in BJJ and other grappling techniques every day. He is also a brown belt in BJJ which requires a lot of dedication to achieve. Conor McGregor has also said the fighter he admires the most is Rickson Gracie, a mostly BJJ fighter.
Here’s a video where he explains his top 3 favorite fighters are:
- Rickson Gracie
- Bruce Lee
- Muhammed Ali
Is McGregor a Black Belt
A black is not the highest belt in martial arts. But, is considered to be a very high level of skill, and in some martial arts where a person can begin teaching. Here’s a rundown of whether Connor McGregor is a black belt in any martial arts.
Conor McGregor is not a black belt in BJJ. But, he is a brown belt which is very close to a black belt. Striking sports typically don’t have a belt ranking system, particularly boxing and kickboxing. His skill level in striking could be argued to be that of a black belt in other martial arts.
However, Conor McGregor doesn’t have an official black belt in other martial arts. Connor McGregor began boxing at the age of 12. When he was 16 he started training in MMA. At the time he was doing a plumbing apprenticeship and didn’t see a future he liked in plumbing.