Conor McGregor predicted early in his UFC career that he would one day become the first simultaneous two-division champion in company history. On Saturday at UFC 205, he made what once seemed like a farfetched proposition into his reality.
McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC) is now owner of both the UFC Lightweight and Featherweight championships after he scored a second-round knockout of Eddie Alvarez (28-5, 3-2 UFC) to close out the UFC’s first event in New York in more than 20 years, which took place at Madison Square Garden.
What’s even more impressive is how easy “The Notorious” made it all look. He smashed Alvarez repeatedly with his trademark left hand, dropping him multiple times in the opening minutes of the fight. Alvarez kept his composure and battled through the early flurries, but it was clear he was walking on thin ice. Iit was just matter of time until he was put down for good.
Alvarez cleared the cobwebs after being dropped and tried to trade with McGregor and score takedowns, but he wasn’t able to find success anywhere. McGregor shook off every advance made by his opponent in the opening frame, and by the second round he was firmly in his groove.
McGregor dropped his opponent once more, and the third time was the charm. He followed up with a few ground strikes until the referee pulled him off at the 3:04 mark of Round 2, solidifying his victory and sending the crowd into a pandemonium.
The Irishman joined B.J. Penn and Randy Couture as the only fighters in UFC history to win belts in two divisions, but he set himself apart from the pack by being the first to hold two belts at once, etching his place in the company record books forever.
“I saw this so clearly – I swear to God – I saw this so clearly,” McGregor told Rolling Stone after his win. “I followed it until it was reality. I’m very confident in my abilities. I back it up with work ethic, I back it with hours and hours of time and dedication. I never take an hour off this game. I’m very satisfied, very grateful, very happy. But not surprised. I knew it was going to happen to me.”
UFC 205 pulled in a record $17.7 million live gate because of the 20,427 fans in attendance who paid an unprecedented amount for tickets. The event is also trending toward reaching a new benchmark for pay-per-view buys, said UFC President Dana White, topping the reported 1.65 million number set for McGregor’s UFC 202 rematch with Nate Diaz in August.
McGregor had the 155-pound belt wrapped around his waist after his victory was announced, but immediately he called for the second piece of gold to be put in his possession, as well. He draped one belt over each should for an unforgettable piece of scenery, and Alvarez admitted after the fight that he allowed McGregor to force him off his game.
“The first time I was dropped, I remember being on my butt and I was like, ‘Wow that was quick. Whatever that was, it was fast,'” Alvarez says. “I’ve been there before a lot of times in my career, I’ve been dropped. I don’t panic. I get my composure and get right back up. It was more – his speed and timing were very good.”
Once McGregor attacked, that composure melted away.
“I’m not quire sure [why I fought the way I did], and it was foolish.” Alvarez says, “I’ll be the first to admit that was not my intention to go into that fight. That was stupid, it was foolish and I paid for not sticking to the game plan. I paid for it. I didn’t stick to the game plan.”
McGregor’s victory put him in a position of power unlike anything the sport has previously seen. White and the UFC brass said prior to UFC 205 that he would have to vacate a title if he won both, but McGregor has other plans. He could jump between divisions and defend either belt next, and even mentioned the possibility of moving back up to welterweight to go for a third piece of UFC gold.
That’s all up in the air for now, but one thing that is a certainty is that McGregor’s next big life occurrence will come outside the Octagon. His longtime girlfriend Dee Devlin is pregnant with their first child, he said, and McGregor wants some down time to enjoy is accomplishments and prepare for fatherhood.
Once he welcomes the new addition to his family it will be back to business, and considering what he’s achieved so far through 10 UFC fights, he believes the sky is the limit going forward.
“I own the featherweight division, I’m dominating the 155 now, and 170, I have no problem with going to 170,” McGregor says. “I’ve been to 170 … I’m sizing them up all week and saying, ‘They’re not on my level either.’ We’ll see. Like I said, there’s hurdles.”
Age is not one of them.
“Twenty-eight (years old) is young, so we’ll see,” the champ says. “Fresh, I am. Not a bother on me. I could go again. I honestly could go again no problem. I’m just going to go chill for a bit, enjoy these two belts and that’s it.”