If anyone was shocked by the dominant performance that Conor McGregor put on in Madison Square Garden on Saturday night, it was not McGregor himself. The Irishman commanded every second of his fight against Eddie Alvarez, in a masterful display which only highlighted the huge disparity in class between the swaggering Dubliner and most of the UFC crop.
Shortly after the first bell rang out, it became clear to most observers that the fight was heading only one way. Alvarez was lucky to survive the first round; he got TKO'd in the second by a four-punch combination.
The event was the UFC's first exhibition in New York, after many years of official red tape blocking the organisation from putting on events. Of course, McGregor was involved; it had to go down a storm, and the Dubliner guarantees fireworks inside and outside the octagon.
Every time Alvarez advanced forward to attack, McGregor was poised with purpose and countered with clean, crisp punches. The punches were too powerful for Alvarez, who was game but hit the octagon deck multiple times before succumbing in the second.
UFC 205 ticked all the boxes, and thanks to McGregor -- who became the first UFC fighter to hold two titles simultaneously -- surely won't be the last UFC showdown that New York hosts. The city will likely want piece of McGregor again.
McGregor is a marketers dream who breaks box office records and faces, a fact not lost on UFC, his employer. In his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan, McGregor said: "Eddie is a solid competitor, he's a warrior, but he shouldn't have been in here with me tonight."
Few could disagree. The four punches that finished off Alvarez concluded as much. As McGregor often likes to state, he backs up what he says. And he does a lot of talking in the build-up to his fights.
The UFC 205 took in a staggering gate of $17.7m, which broke records for the storied venue of Madison Square Garden.
A couple of times in the fight, McGregor -- cocksure as ever -- wrapped his fists behind his back to goad Alvarez on. The large ecstatic crowds enjoyed it, they love everything the swaggering Irishman does.
"Conor is special," UFC President Dana White said. "I have never seen anyone like him before."
Indeed, the UFC bosses have been desperate for a champion of McGregor's stature since the organisation came to fruition 23 years ago. And doesn't McGregor know it. He talks about the UFC as though he is running the show, and to a degree, he is. Unlike most UFC stars before him, McGregor is showing signs of a savvy businessman; and he even wants a stake in the company's equity. Smart move, and it would be foolish to bet against his plans.
"I hold all the cards now, so someone has to present something really sweet to keep me sweet." he said. "I am the reason the company was sold for $4.2 billion."
As a result, McGregor, ever the self-promoter, is chasing a piece of the UFC pie. The day after his victory, he said: "The new owners better call me. I want my equity."
The McGregor bubble is a majorly lucrative one and it's only fair that he gets to see his bank balance rise accordingly. The Irish is managing to fill the void left behind in the fight game since Floyd Mayweather retired and Manny Pacquiao lost a pace in his step. Put simply, boxing isn't commanding as much public chatter these days. And yet, at this Birmingham barbers on Saturday, it was the sole topic ringing through the store; almost all customers in there were talking about the McGregor fight. It's becoming easier to understand how MMA is one of the fastest growing sports.
Bookies are also cashing in on the McGregor bandwagon. When the Irishman enters the octagon, more people place bets on his exploits than when any other MMA fighter fights. This betting site for Canadians reports that MMA overall punts have a noticeable spike when McGregor puts on his gloves, while this mobile casino believes they get a drive in users. The McGregor Show is a cash-cow that never stops and he's grown well accustomed to it. He's showing signs of becoming money-obsessed like Mayweather
What is new territory for McGregor, however, is his pending fatherhood, which he announced after his fight on Saturday. It is perhaps the only time the public has ever heard McGregor sound unsure.
But parenthood aside, let's imagine UFC big wigs are hearing him loud and clear on a couple of issues. Whatever rate McGregor is currently on, it's hard to create an argument as to why he doesn't indeed deserve more.Suggest a correction