Yesterday (Sat., July 19, 2014) Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) featherweights Conor McGregor and Diego Brandao threw down in the main event of UFC Fight Night 46, airing live on Fight Pass from O2 Arena in Dublin, Ireland.
To watch full Conor McGregor vs. Diego Brandao fight video highlights from UFC Fight Night 46 click here.
Quickly becoming one of the most polarizing stars in all of mixed martial arts (MMA), the No. 13-ranked "Notorious" had made waves by calling out nearly every top-ranked featherweight in UFC.
But, he also had a ton of pressure on his shoulders a result, returning to his first ever UFC headliner after tearing his ACL defeating Max Holloway at UFC Fight Night 26 in Aug. 2013. No other UFC fighter had ever risen up to his status as the face of an entire country with just two wins over unranked fighters.
The brash McGregor faced a volatile and dangerous test in Brandao, The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 14 winner who was most recently knocked out by Dustin Poirier at UFC 168 after missing weight and threatening to stab "Diamond" with a pen.
"DB" filled in as a late replacement for the injured Cole Miller, and he had a golden opportunity to right many of his past wrongs by upsetting McGregor in his home city.
When the dust was settled on UFC Fight Night 46's massively hyped main event, however, that proved too much of a challenge as McGregor knocked up his third straight UFC victory.
The bad blood-fueled bout began with a spinning kick from McGregor. Brandao threw two headkicks and McGregor one of his own, and the fighters went to war. Brandao sought a takedown against the cage, but McGregor reversed to get a takedown and land on top of Brandao on the ground. Brandao sought a leglock but McGregor slipped out to rain down some ground and pound.
"Notorious" returned to the feet to land a big right hand and a body kick. He followed with a left hand and a spinning kick that hurt Brandao. An exchange ensued, with Brandao landing some good punches of his own. McGregor stalked his opponent on the cage, landing some brutal shots to drop the Brazilian and earn the first round finish with a swarm up against the cage.
McGregor delivered in a huge way on the grand stage, clearly outclassing Brandao, who was once considered the future of the UFC featherweight division. That distinction now goes to McGregor, who called out for a title bout with Jose Aldo in an Irish soccer stadium.
We'll have to see what happens, but McGregor was simply never in any trouble against Brandao. He's now undefeated in UFC, and a match-up with the winner of UFC on FOX 12's Clay Guida vs. Dennis Bermudez bout would make for an insane match-up for "Notorious."
But the fight he may receive could be with No. 6-ranked Poirier, the normally calm competitor who has become increasingly angered with McGregor's endless trash talk.
UFC could even throw him to the wolves and book against big names in No. 1-ranked Chad Mendes, No. 2-ranked Frankie Edgar, or even No. 3-ranked Cub Swanson, who already has a sordid history building with "Notorious."
Love him or hate him, you can't deny his talent, and he's here to stay. UFC needs him in this time of absent and injured champions.
Brandao is now lost in a swarm of tough and talented featherweights. It's clear that he can't hang with the best, and his ability to take damage is apparently waning with each bout. He'll probably get one more chance against an unranked opponent. If he doesn't win that bout impressively he'll most likely be cut.
His considerable promise has dissipated amongst a litany of poor performances, and that's just too bad given the potential he showed just a few short years ago.
Conor McGregor bounced back from a torn ACL to destroy Diego Brandao in the first round for his home fans. With a bout against a top-ranked opponent looming large, can "Notorious" burst through the next level by beating one of the featherweight division's true elite?