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Conor McGregor wields power, precision, and now significant leverage with UFC

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Esther Lin

13 seconds.

Just over a dozen ticks of the clock was all that was required for Conor McGregor to knock out Jose Aldo at UFC 194 last Saturday night (Dec. 12, 2015) to become undisputed UFC featherweight champion.

Hey, he said he wasn't here to take part, that he was here to take over (highlights), and take over he has. It may have been a sub-minute victory, but the newly-crowned featherweight champion made sure to note it was everything that led up to that point that made it happen.

"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," McGregor said in a Facebook post.

"Notorious" slept one of the baddest fighters on the planet at UFC 194. A legendary fighter who hadn't been defeated in over a decade and made it look easy. Aldo came forward, faked a right hand and threw a left, but McGregor connected with a left hook just before eating Aldo's punch and sent the Brazilian legend crashing to the canvas.

And the Irish faithful at The MGM Grand Garden Arena through the roof.

"No power, just precision," said McGregor, describing the knockout to Joe Rogan after the fight's conclusion. "No speed, just timing. These are fundamentals. That's all it takes. These are four-ounce gloves, that's all it takes when you take my left hand. Nobody can take that left-hand shot."

The brash and uber-confident Irishman has been prophetic throughout his time in UFC.

He actually predicted he would knock Aldo out in the first round in under four minutes, and then went out and did so, setting a UFC title-fight record in the process, which surpassed Ronda Rousey's mark of 14 seconds over Cat Zingano at UFC 184.

The champion mentioned the book "The Secret" by Rhonda Byrne as a big influence and called his own shot several times already since joining the UFC ranks back in 2013. His belief in his own abilities is truly something to behold, and when he vocalizes those beliefs, he fully expects them to manifest inside the Octagon.

"If you can see it here, and you have the courage enough to speak it, it will happen," he said at the UFC 194 post-fight press conference. "I see these shots. I see these sequences and I don't shy away from them. A lot of times people believe in certain things but they keep to themselves. They don't put it out there. If you truly believe in it, if you become vocal with it, you are creating that law of attraction and it will become reality. I knew he would overextend and I knew I would catch him. ‘Mystic Mac' strikes again."

His mental toughness is bullet proof. It's his greatest attribute.

"What we've seen from Conor so far is he's built these massive stages for him to go out and perform on, and then he's gone out and executed exactly how he said he was going to," Brian Stann told MMAmania.com prior to UFC 194. That's a guy who is extremely focused. There is nothing else in his life that matters to him, does not come as close as this."

His stunning rise from new prospect to featherweight champion is perhaps the greatest in UFC history. It's been almost three years since he stopped Marcus Brimage in the first round of his UFC debut and his confidence and self promotion grew tremendously with each victory since then, as did the claims he was all hype.

"They will always find something, but I will always find victory," he told MMAmania.com back in June. "It makes no difference."

But McGregor talks the talk and walks the walk better than anyone in combat sports and is unfazed by his detractors.

Say what you want about his three-piece suit, sunglasses, lavish spending, whiskey drinking at press conferences and constant talking, but seven victories, six finishes and a trashing of one of the greatest fighters in the sport's history speaks entirely for itself. While his actual speaking has set the story lines for the goals he has achieved for himself.

He is undoubtedly a superstar and one of the biggest pay-per-view (PPV) draws in the sport, if not the biggest. While Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) disclosed his $500,000 salary from UFC 194, with PPV points and a piece of the live gate — which was supposedly a number north of 10 million — it's clear his worth and drawing power are quite high.

What is even more certain is McGregor's keen awareness of that very fact. These aren't predictions like he makes before his fights. These are actualities. He is delivering with boatloads full of dollars.

The power he possesses and control he presently wields are both of great significance. The new featherweight champion has spoken about nine-figure deals and with what he has been able to do, the money he has been able to rake in for the promotion, it is not out of the realm of possibility.

McGregor holds the cards now and there aren't a lot of other big draws in the promotion, save for Rousey. But with the loss to Holm putting a dent into her invincible image, and Jon Jones without a return date yet, McGregor is the guy. The numbers speak for themselves. He is reaching uncharted territory for an MMA fighter and delivers each time out in terms of fans, ratings and numbers.

That's called leverage, folks.

His fight against Dennis Siver on FOX Sports 1 last January in Boston, Mass., drew almost three million viewers on a Sunday night. His knockout win against Mendes — which was originally Aldo before the now-former champion withdrew due to injury — ended up being a huge record setter with a gate over seven million dollars. UFC 194 smashed that record with a gate over 10 million. All the weight of the promotion and buildup was resting almost solely on McGregor's shoulders.

He is set to become the richest fighter the sport has even seen. Now, we aren't talking Floyd Mayweather in boxing territory, but for MMA and UFC in particular he will stand alone. He is already. McGregor's last two PPV cards were gargantuan and now that he dismantled Aldo in record fashion, his next card will undoubtedly be a huge money maker.

He even holds his own press conferences.

Just who he will face is another question to be answered with talks of McGregor's desire to go up to 155 pounds and fight for the title there. Current champion Rafael dos Anjos will face Donald Cerrone at UFC on FOX 17 on Saturday (details). What is interesting is the UFC saying if McGregor goes up to lightweight, than he must vacate the 145-pound belt. McGregor said that won't happen because he wants a belt on each shoulder.

So who will blink first? It won't be McGregor, that's for sure.

Why would UFC deny him the chance at an attempt to win two titles? That only adds to the mystique of McGregor. He was already a champion in two weight classes for Cage Warriors Fighting Championship (CWFC) in Ireland. If anyone deserves a shot at doing it, it's McGregor.

They really can't deny him.

Frankie Edgar seems to be the most enticing of future matchups on the table. Some think Aldo deserves a rematch, but a 13-second thrashing after almost a year of buildup should put an end to that discussion. Edgar was the lightweight champion and has fought for the featherweight title already, and he just knocked out Chad Mendes.

McGregor's coach, John Kavanagh said they are considering a lightweight title fight in April and then defending featherweight title at UFC 200 in July in Vegas.

UFC has discussed a possible McGregor fight at Croke Park in Ireland, which holds over 80,000 people. McGregor is bringing in over 10,000 fans when he fights in Las Vegas. Do you think he can't fill that stadium? Guaranteed it would smash the record set at UFC 193 in Australia (56,214) and also UFC 129, which took place in Canada.

So, with the McGregor title reign official, and his drawing power and financial importance fully realized, he's going to push for whatever fights he wants and seek to obtain as big of a piece of the pie as he feels he is rightfully entitled to.

And the UFC is going to have to play ball.