Saturday 22 October 2016

Conor McGregor lives up to own hype in 13 seconds of lethal mayhem

Dubliner pronounces himself world's greatest fighter after Aldo KO

Joe Callaghan

Published 14/12/2015 | 02:30

"From nothing to something to everything."

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As is his nature, Conor McGregor saved his very best for the cameras.

After his night of nights in the cage, the UFC's new undisputed featherweight champion of the world was enjoying himself just as much out of it in the moments after glory.

He stood at the post-fight dais at the MGM Grand, belt draped over his shoulder, and was sharp, funny, engaging, eloquent even, in a lengthy press conference.

But it was his closing observations for a TV interview soon afterwards in which he hit the mark just about as accurately as he hit Jose Aldo Junior's chin with a left hook heard around the world an hour earlier.

"From nothing to something to everything," he told journalist Ariel Helwani. "That is where I am."

Conor McGregor floors Jose Aldo with a left-hook
Conor McGregor floors Jose Aldo with a left-hook

Yet this had been such a night, one without precedent in the history of combat sports, some might say Irish sport, that McGregor moved straight from 'everything' to 'anything'. For now anything is possible for this 27-year-old phenomenon.

This was supposed to be the night the stratospheric rise of the country's compelling but polarising star came to an end, levelled off or at the very least hit some kind of turbulence.

None of the above. Instead the Notorious One hit new planes in the flash of an eye, dragging his sport, which also leaves many with a bad taste in their mouth, with him.

Even a day later, the number makes little sense, but 13 seconds was all it took for McGregor to leave hype and history in his wake, his KO of an iconic champion, a pound-for-pound titan in Aldo, his most outrageous outing yet.

"There are many great fighters, who do great things. But when you combine it all together, the whole fight game, I don't think there's anyone who does it better than me," said McGregor, who had predicted a first-round KO from day one of this 14-month affair.

"Mystic Mac strikes again! If you can see it, and have the courage enough to speak it, it will happen. I see these shots, I see the sequences and I don't shy away from them."

Who can argue with McGregor now? Very few. Who can live with him? Right now, seemingly, no-one. Aldo had been the king of the fighting featherweights for a decade, the only champion of the division in the history of the UFC. He had had McGregor in his sights for fully 14 months. And yet 13 seconds was all it took for him to be emphatically pushed to one side like the rest.


"When I'm finished, there will be nobody left," McGregor had promised in a video promo that was beamed out on the big screens at the MGM Grand Garden Arena early and often on Saturday.

The stadium, which has seen its fair share of spectacular fight nights but never one like this, took its time to fill up. That may have been partly down to a bit of fight fatigue after the most hectic weekend in the organisation's history. But mostly it was down to the efforts of McGregor's footsoldiers to drink the desert dry before it came time for UFC 194's headliners.

Over 30 fights had taken place in the space of three torrid nights of UFC action. And yet the thousands who had invaded Las Vegas and the millions who watched on from afar will mostly speak of the final 13 seconds of the weekend.

A fight that took an age to get here was over in a handful of heartbeats. McGregor had hailed the influence of new movement guru Ido Portal in the build-up, insisting sleight of foot would be as important as sleight of hand.

So it proved. From the referee's signal McGregor moved forward and popped off a left jab, a softener. Then he backed up and let the apparent master approach the apprentice. Aldo fell for it, moved in with a right and got caught with the left hand that you sense will soon be recognised as the most devastating in all of combat sports. Euphoria erupted around the octagon; credit union loans and weeks of saved wages spent on 13 seconds of sport deemed damn good value.

"I have a four-second KO on my resume. A 16-second KO and now a 13-second," said McGregor as outside him in the casino, dedicated disciples were already dreaming of their next trip here. "I feel I have the shots and the timing. The human chin can't take it. I said one round. He was the pound-for-pound king on the roster. Who comes in and predicts one-round KOs? I did and I did it.

"I have always been fascinated by movement. I always look at people who can move in unusual ways and have complete control of their frame. They have control over their mind. To be able to balance on one hand, you don't just have control over your body, you have control over your mind."

McGregor's mind should have been racing after such a sensory overload. And yet it wasn't. Mystic Mac, as we had foretold on these pages on the morning of the fight, has become Mellow Mac too. Having been overwhelmed by interim title triumph back in July at this same place, McGregor was taking this all in his stride. He had time to express concerns for his fallen foe.

"Jose has been a phenomenal champion," he said, as images flashed across TV screens of Aldo and his entire team sitting crestfallen on the floor in his dressing-room.

"It would have been nice if the contest had stretched out a little longer. I still feel the same process would have happened. Timing beets speed, precision beats power.

"Maybe he can take a step back and reset himself. It's not the same when you fight me, it's a whole other ball game, a whole other pressure bubble. I respect Jose, I wish him well, but we're on to the next chapter."

The chapters are piling up. The vaunted victims are piling up. The profits too are piling up. This is the Conor McGregor journey. From nothing to something to everything. . . and now anything.

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