Conor McGregor is undoubtedly the next big thing.
Whether or not he's fully proven himself is still up in the air; however, after his superb performance this past Saturday (July 19, 2014) at UFC Fight Night 46: "McGregor vs. Brandao" from O2 Arena in his hometown of Dublin, Ireland, he's got the world of mixed martial arts (MMA) going berserk.
Brandao, a replacement for the injured Cole Miller, was a tough opponent for the Irishman, and although he showed up to fight, "Ceara" looked terribly overmatched in front of a roaring crowd in McGregor's birthplace.
It was McGregor's third win inside the Octagon, and based on the reaction from observers who follow the sport, you'd think he's been at this for years. He held both the lightweight and featherweight titles in Cage Warriors Fighting Championship (CWFC), proving he was a prospect with a boatload of talent months before joining the Las Vegas-based organization.
Alongside Ronda Rousey and Jon Jones, it seems as if McGregor could be the biggest UFC star in the near future. He's got a unique fashion sense, he possesses an extraordinary fighting style, and he tries to put his desired opponents in their place just by using his mouth.
But that doesn't mean whiskey and football arenas just yet.
There's still quite a bit of work for him to do, and his next opponent should be someone ranked in the top 10 (at least in accordance to the promotion's ranking system).
Feeding "Notorious" opponents like Marcus Brimage or Max Holloway just won't cut it anymore, since he's on the cusp of getting what he wants quite early in his career and those type of guys shouldn't get him there. A title shot isn't necessarily on the horizon, but it's not ludicrous to imagine the Irishman challenging for gold in a year's time.
Since the job is cut out for him at featherweight, we have to nix any potential fights at lightweight, including Norman Parke or Diego Sanchez, who serves as a whipping boy when it comes to McGregor's trash talk.
Ideally, Dustin Poirier is the foe McGregor will presumably get next, since their desired meeting could go down at UFC 178. They both want it, and "Diamond" is the perfect caliber of opponent for McGregor to further test his skills.
This meeting is somewhat mandatory, since both fighters are expecting each other, not to mention the fandom expecting a stiff test for the Irishman in his next bout.
Another featherweight match up sure to entertain is next week's battle pitting Clay Guida against Dennis Bermudez, which takes place at UFC on FOX 12. The winner of that battle could also duke it out against McGregor, since either the "Carpenter" or the "Menace" could be a difficult task for "Notorious" to slay when it comes to the grappling exchanges. We've seen McGregor do well on the mat, yet it could be a different story against a fighter who is known for their wrestling.
There's also Cub Swanson, who is coming off a big victory over Jeremy Stephens at UFC Fight Night 44 last month, although, it seems like his path is destined to cross elsewhere, perhaps against Frankie Edgar at a later date. That is, if he doesn't get what he wants just yet.
Don't forget, Nik Lentz battles Charles Oliveira in a rematch at UFC Fight Night 50 in September, but that may not be a fight of the same magnitude as the others when discussing McGregor's next adversary.
Combatants like Chad Mendes and Jose Aldo are excluded, not because they'll be fighting each other soon, but more so McGregor needs to go to war against another opponent before any sort of title talk begins.
Truthfully, Poirier should be next, and his well-rounded skill set could make it a very interesting and violent fight.
But anyone could really be next for the Dublin-born combatant. Let's just hope the organization doesn't fool around by feeding him a mid-tier foe, as everyone seems to be on the same page when it comes to McGregor.
Apart from Las Vegas being next for the youngster, sky's the limit when it comes to his superstar potential, and we'll certainly get more of an indication after his next fight.
For extensive coverage of UFC Fight Night 46: "McGregor vs. Brandao," including video highlights, post-fight recaps, and more, click here.