UFC Fight Night 46 preview: Will the real Conor McGregor please stand up?

Esther Lin

Diego Brandao will try to sneak into Mr. McGregor's garden this weekend on Fight Pass. But will he escape Dublin with his jacket and shoes? That could depend on the man behind the myth, as we'll soon discover if there's more to the "Notorious" story ... or less.

So ... who is Conor McGregor?

We're about to find out this Saturday night (July 19, 2014) when the "Notorious" featherweight returns to the fight game after nearly a year on the sidelines. In his absence, he's been doing a lot of talking to keep himself in the headlines while the division passes him by, hyping up his own skill set and promoting himself to anyone who will listen.

Unfortunately, his upbraiding could use some upgrading.

If everybody who competes at 145 pounds sucks, as is his claim, then it's not a big deal if you beat them. That's essentially what McGregor has been saying in the build up to his Diego Brandao fight in the UFC Fight Night 46 headliner, which airs on Fight Pass from Dublin, Ireland.

Jose Aldo is "basic," Chad Mendes is a "featherweight Phil Baroni," Cub Swanson is "old," and Dustin Poirier is shaped like a vegetable.

By that rationale, McGregor should run right through them.

And if the top five of his division (see them here) pose absolutely no challenge, then what possible chance does Brandao have? None, which is why anything less than complete and utter destruction would completely backfire and be, quite frankly, embarrassing.

But he brought it upon himself.

And he's got the entire O2 Arena -- which sold out the first day tickets went on sale to the general public -- there to watch him live up to expectations. Or not. That's the kind of pressure that can cause some fighters to pass out from anxiety, though McGregor doesn't strike me as the kind of competitor who's rattled by stuff like that.

In fact, he probably thrives on it.

But it's still a tremendous gamble any way you slice it. The good news is, he's facing an inconsistent fighter coming off an injury, who has already been stopped by strikes (C-Mac's specialty), and took this bout on short notice. That could be problematic for the Brazilian.

It would appear that "Notorious" is getting his "moment" delivered on a silver platter.

A UFC main event -- in front of his adoring countrymen -- against an opponent who will gallop right into his wheelhouse. What better way to validate 11 months of headlines he didn't deserve? Let's face it, two wins in UFC against mediocre talent is not enough to make you a superstar.

But charisma?

That can take you straight to the top. Just ask Chael Sonnen, whose career was defined by failing spectacularly in the big spot, only to keep bouncing back because he had the "it" factor. McGregor also has it, leading me to wonder if it's real or manufactured.

Is he nothing more than a Sonnen-esque salesman who is all bark and no bite? Or the most dangerous featherweight the sport has ever seen?

I'm not sure.

I'd reckon no one is, outside of McGregor, which means I (and everyone else) will be tuning in this weekend to find out. Heck, maybe a few casual onlookers will even sign up for Fight Pass to watch him shine -- or just to see him get his ass kicked. Either way, McGregor did his job.

Now we're about to see if it was "well done."

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