FIGHT CLUB: Conor McGregor's Knock Out UFC takeover

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  • Devastating: Conor McGregor.

    Last year Conor McGregor made this statement of intent: “We’re not here just to take part, we’re here to take over.” On Saturday night in Las Vegas it took just 13 seconds of destructive power to get the job done in spectacular fashion.

    The brash Irishman said he would wipe out the featherweight division and by demolishing Brazilian Jose Aldo at UFC 194, ‘Mystic Mac’ achieved what he always said he would: UFC gold. And that’s just it about McGregor. His words are never predictions. They are vows.

    It took one exchange and one immaculately timed left to fulfil those bold claims. It was quite simply the biggest McGregor moment to date. You get the feeling even Aldo knew the title was destined to change hands, too.

    Much of the talk leading up to the clash was about the two different fighting styles but it ultimately came down to the two different mental states. One was loose and free the other tight and tense.

    As the wide-eyed McGregor prowled around the Octagon, growling and revelling in the deafening roar created by his travelling Irish support during the introductions, Aldo was by contrast static and silent, barely lifting his eyes from the canvas. Seconds later that canvas became an abyss.

    “No power, just precision,” said McGregor, who reacted to the stunning victory as if it was simple destiny. “No speed, just timing. That’s all it takes. These are four-ounce gloves. That’s all it takes.” 

    The punch was so quick Aldo was even able to land a big left of his own before McGregor’s sniper-like strike had left his chin. The longest build-up to the biggest title fight ended in record time and this is just the start because the UFC is McGregor’s world now. He has drawn the two biggest gates of the year, with $10.1 million at UFC 194 and $7.2 million at UFC 189 in July. In his home country, he is becoming an idol.

    He has called for a headlining date in Dublin’s 80,000 seater Croke Park, and given his increased bargaining power, he may be able to push for it and shatter UFC attendance records.

    “At 27 years of age, I stand here as the unified world champion (with) back-to-back gate records at the MGM. This is trending as the highest pay-per-view of all time for UFC. I’m 27 years of age with every record in the book, ” McGregor said.

    Incidentally, those records were the fastest knockout in a championship clash, a record gate in the US and potentially the biggest pay-per-view figures of the year.

    After Ronda Rousey’s defeat at UFC 193 there can be no doubt who the promotion’s, perhaps even all of combat sport’s, biggest star is now. But it wasn’t just the divisive Irishman that contributed to a hugely successful weekend for the UFC.

    In the co-main event Luke Rockhold captured the middleweight title from previously unbeaten Chris Weidman, stopping him in the fourth round and leaving him a swollen, bloodied, battered mess.

    Rockhold, the former Strikeforce champion, capitalised on a huge error from the only man to defeat the legendary Anderson Silva twice. The mistake came towards the end of round three, a round Weidman was winning until he slung an ill-timed and life-changing wheel kick.

    Rockhold darted into full mount and devastated the New Yorker with elbows from the top. Arguably the fight should have been called to a halt there but Weidman defended himself just enough to dissuade referee Herb Dean from doing so.

    “I was hoping he would (stop it),” Rockhold said of the end of the third round. “He kind of stopped it at the end, I wasn’t exactly sure. I sucked it up. Had to go another round. Whatever. All I care is I got the belt. And new (middleweight champion).”

    It mattered little, Rockhold had his way from there and finished the fight off with a vicious ground and pound in the fourth. Weidman, like Aldo, must deal with the defeat because it’s all change in the UFC.