Monday 19 February 2018

A lifetime's work, but just 13 seconds to become a legend

Conor McGregor knocks out Jose Aldo during a featherweight championship mixed martial arts bout at UFC 194 in Las Vegas
Conor McGregor knocks out Jose Aldo during a featherweight championship mixed martial arts bout at UFC 194 in Las Vegas
Conor McGregor speaks at a press conference after his 13-second knockout of Jose Aldo in their featherweight title fight during UFC 194 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in the early hours of yesterday

Eimear Rabbitt and Ryan Nugent

The clock said 13 seconds, but newly crowned UFC world champion Conor McGregor took a lot longer than that to land the "perfect punch" - 27 years, in fact.

The Dubliner's one-punch knock-out of Jose Aldo in Las Vegas was the culmination of years of hard work.

"To the naked eye it was 13 seconds, but to my team and my family it has been a lifetime of work to get to that 13 seconds," said the 27-year-old following his resounding victory.

McGregor's coach, John Kavanagh, posted an emotional tribute to the fighter on social media following his victory.

"More than 10 years' daily training for one perfect punch," read the message from the ec­static trainer.

"What an amazing story, and it's still being written."

World champion McGregor said he was now concentrating on his Christmas plans and spending time with his family and girlfriend Dee Devlin.

The Crumlin native said he was delighted to be able to take a short break from his gruelling training schedule.

"In the fight game, when you travel around for so long, Christmas is taken from you many times - but this time Christmas is not taken from me, so I get to go home," McGregor said.

McGregor has spoken before about wanting to stage a title defence in Ireland and, following his weekend win, said he would be keen to fight in either Croke Park or the Aviva.

"If they offer me Croke Park, or if they offer me the football stadium, you're damn right I'm gonna take it," he said.

Cathal Pendred, who recently announced his retirement from UFC, said McGregor's knock-out of Aldo was "an incredible moment".

"Only three years ago he was on the dole and now he's out here in Vegas, the world champion, making millions and is the biggest star in the sport.

"To have known him from the days when we were fighting for a hundred quid and then going on to the UFC together, it's been some journey," he added.

It is estimated that McGregor earned up to €600,000 per second for his swift dispatch of Aldo. While the majority of his paycheque hinges on pay-per-view buy rates - numbers that won't be reported for several weeks - he is expected to net a total of more than €7m from the night's proceedings.

Meanwhile, McGregor's legions of fans celebrated his win from Ireland to the US. The reverberations of "there's only one Conor McGregor" travelled all the way from Las Vegas's MGM Grand to Murray's Bar on Dublin's O'Connell Street.

Cheering on his hero in Murray's, Adam Bruton (28) from Glasnevin said he wouldn't have been interested in UFC if it wasn't for 'The Notorious'.

"McGregor is amazing. He's hilarious - he says one thing and then he backs it up. He knows his stuff, I like that."

Stephen Caine (28), from Kildare, watched the fight with pal Michael Nsubugu. "We thought the fight would be longer, but McGregor did fantastic," Stephen said. "The atmosphere in there was great - it's these kind of things that make you proud to be Irish."

Irish Independent

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