“Mystic Mac” strikes again.
Conor McGregor, who guaranteed seven years ago he would become UFC champion, then claimed he’d knock out Jose Aldo in the first round to do it, turned both of those predictions into reality in record-setting fashion at Saturday’s UFC 194, KOing Aldo in 13 seconds to unify the Featherweight title.
“I see him KO’d inside one,” McGregor boldly predicted prior to the event. “It’s like in the jungle: One king gets old, he starts getting sloppy, he starts stagnating, then a young gorilla comes and kills him and takes everything he owns. That’s what is happening here.”
The buildup to the grudge match lasted more than a year, but the fight itself ended in less time than an Instagram video when McGregor landed one blistering left hand for the fastest title-fight finish in UFC history, beating Ronda Rousey’s previous mark of 14 seconds set at UFC 184 in February.
“If I say it’s gonna happen, it happens,” McGregor said following the fight. “Nobody can take my left-hand shot.”
Aldo had been the only Featherweight champion in UFC history, but his 18-fight winning streak came to a crashing halt when he charged McGregor in the opening seconds and was greeted by a perfectly placed punch. That was much to the delight of the Irish supporters who packed Las Vegas’ Grand Garden Arena, a sea of green and white that washed away Aldo’s contingent’s chants of “Ole!”
The momentum toward the long-awaited showdown built throughout the 12-fight card, which also featured an incredible Middleweight Championship contest that saw Luke Rockhold (15-2) dethrone another dominant titleholder in Chris Weidman (13-1).
With tension at a breaking point, McGregor and Aldo finally shared the Octagon to settle their differences. They refused to touch gloves at the start of the fight, then in the blink of eye it all ended with the stunning knockout.
The only person not surprised by the outcome, of course, was McGregor (19-2), who extended his winning streak to 15 fights dating back to 2010.
“If you can see it, hear it and have the courage enough to speak it, it will happen,” McGregor said after his victory. “When you fall into a shot like that, you go to sleep. With the correct timing the human chin can’t take it – I said one round. He was the pound-for-pound No. 1 fighter on the roster, undefeated for 10 years, the only company’s only Featherweight champion. Who comes in and predicts one-round KOs? I did and I did it.”
McGregor’s title reign kicked off in unique fashion. As Irish fights fans took charge in the MGM lobby, McGregor arrived at the postfight press conference in one of his signature suits to field media questions from the podium – a first from a UFC fighter.
The 27-year-old preached the success of the event, echoing a statement from UFC Director of Public Relations Dave Sholler about the event tracking as one of the biggest in company history. UFC 194’s live gate reached $10.1 million, the second highest ever for a UFC event, and McGregor made it clear he’s aware of his contribution.
“I said to [UFC CEO] Lorenzo [Fertitta] and [UFC President] Dana [White], I said, ‘I’m bringing these half-a-billion dollar revenue numbers,'” McGregor said. “I’m standing here as the unified world champion, back-to-back gate records at the MGM, this is trending as the highest pay-per-view of all time for the UFC – so at 27 years of age with every record in the book…the sky’s the limit.”
Every step of the way McGregor has predicted his path. He’s not ready to rest on his laurels, though, and has already set his sights on making more history.
Prior to UFC 194, McGregor said his plan was to run through Aldo then move up to the Lightweight division and attempt to become the first fighter to ever hold UFC belts in two weight classes simultaneously. It would be an unprecedented move, but after completing the first step, McGregor reaffirmed his intention to go for another title in the near future.
“There will be a belt on one shoulder and a belt on the other shoulder,” he said. “When I go for that Lightweight belt and take that Lightweight belt, I will still be the Featherweight champion also. I will be a dual-weight champion, there’s no going up and vacating.”
McGregor is unlike any of the more than 50 fighters to hold a belt over the course of UFC history. His unflappable self-confidence is second only to his fighting ability, and his era atop of the sport is going to be a dramatic and unpredictable ride. Between a potential rematch with Aldo, moving up a division or taking on another contender for his newly won belt, McGregor has a wide variety of options for his future.
There’s no wrong answer for what’s next, but don’t expect to find out his exact plan until McGregor relishes in his latest achievement.
“I think that I am the pound-for-pound No. 1,” McGregor said. “I believe there are many great fighters, there are many people who do great things, but when you combine it all together, and you combine the whole animal that is the fight game, I don’t think there’s nobody that does it better than me.
“I’m looking forward to going home, building a Christmas tree with my girlfriend, spending with my family, eating some good food and letting the plan form for me,” he continued. “I will keep my ear to the ground and see what people are interested in most and make my decision then.”