Last Sunday I did something that was a little rare for me – I went to the Monterey Pub and Grub to have dinner, some brewskis and watch the UFC card. Although I was excited to watch the third fight in the Benson Henderson vs. Donald Cerrone trilogy, but I was also by rising star Conor “Notorious” McGregor.
Hailing from Dublin, Ireland, McGregor is on the fast track of being one of the UFC’s rising stars. That night he solidified his place as a top contender after picking a part Dennis Siver for six minutes then finishing him off. According to MMA Fighting.com, the card drew 2,751,000 viewers and peaked with 3,162,000. It was the highest for the UFC event on cable since “The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights” finale back in December 2009.
At the Pub and Grub, the crowd – well one guy dressed in Seahawks jersey and another in a Green Bay uniform – cheered. I was impressed with McGregor’s work that night as I had in previous fights.
Before the Siver bout, McGregor finished three of his last four opponents in the first round. On his way to the UFC he won both the Cage Warriors lightweight and featherweight titles.
However, it was McGregor’s post-fight actions that almost rendered me speechless. The Notorious one climbed over the cage and got in the face of UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo, who smiled. This was icing on the cake as the two had traded verbal jabs earlier in the day and UFC President Dana White announced that McGregor would get a featherweight title shot if he won.
McGregor’s getting in Aldo’s face may seem disrespectful to some, but challengers chasing champions has been a staple in combat sports for years, all the way back to boxing Jack Johnson chasing Jim Jefferies back in the 1900s. It’s no different from when Chael Sonnen chased Anderson Silva or when Nick Diaz called out Georges St-Pierre. It’s no different now.
Another thought is that this will elevate Aldos’s game.
Aldo is one of the best fighters in the world, yet he doesn’t have a lot of marketability – in the U.S. – nor does he do a lot of self-promotion. He’s a fighter’s fighter and does a lot of talking in the cage.
But just being the regular joe isn’t going to capture fan’s attention – not at first glance. However a fight against McGregor may face Aldo to step out of his social comfort zone and promote this fight.
Putting the fight aside I think McGregor is a fresh face in the UFC’s featherweight division and I think he’ll be a stand out for a long time.