UFC Fight Night 46: Conor McGregor vs. Diego Brandao Review
I don’t remember much of UFC 93. I know I watched it on “downloaded replay” the following morning because my then-girlfriend and I drove to Los Angeles to visit a friend that weekend. So, you’ll have to excuse me if I’m mistaken, but I don’t remember that crowd being as straight-up insane as the crowd at the O2 last night.
Maybe that shouldn’t be surprising. UFC 93, for all intents and purposes, was a standard lower mid-level UFC event. Rich Franklin and Dan Henderson headlined. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua slogged through Mark Coleman in the co-main. The lone Irish fighter on the card, Tom Egan, lost to English fighter John Hathaway. And the UFC allowed Marcus Davis to live out all his fet-Irish fantasies in a split-decision win over Chris Lytle.
Contrast that to yesterday’s card. Conor McGregor, the country’s first and best chance at MMA starpower, headlined, selling out the arena in a matter of minutes or hours, and the UFC stocked the rest of the card with local fighters. Patrick Holohan set the table with an upset over Josh Sampo, and it continued through the rest of the card. Cathal Pendred recovered from nearly being finished to choke out Mike King. Neil Seery thoroughly outboxed and outfoxed Phil Harris. Norman Parke knocked down what was set up for him. And McGregor finished Brandao within the first round, then demanded “title shots and football stadiums.”
If the Irish fans travel as well as the Brazilians and if Conor McGregor can work his way to a title shot and if Jose Aldo holds on to the belt at 145 pounds, we might have a very special title fight atmosphere in the next year or two.
OH MY GODDDDDD, WHY WAS IT ON FIGHT PAAAAASSSS?
After the event, Dana White told the media McGregor’s would likely fight next in Las Vegas, which we can presume would take place on pay-per-view. The squareheads came out in full force on Twitter. Their two major complaints:
1. McGregor shouldn’t have been fighting on Fight Pass.
2. The UFC should put McGregor on Fox before pay-per-view.
McGregor was in a perfect position to headline a Fight Pass event. The UFC put a lot of muscle behind him when they put him on the main card of the inaugural Fox Sports 1 card in Boston, but McGregor tore his ACL, taking a lot of steam out of his sails. So, they build a “comeback” fight for him in his home country, where it appears he’s a genuine star. They sell out the building, quickly. Fox Sports 1 isn’t likely wanting to air an event at 3 p.m., and the UFC is probably out of the afternoon PPV game for good, so you throw it on Fight Pass. Does it have the same reach as any of their other outlets? No. But it builds great momentum for McGregor with hardcores and media, which will trickle down Reagan style between now and his next fight.
Putting him on Fox is a great idea. McGregor’s got the look and the charisma and the exciting style to make a great impression on a grand scale. But he can get that same exposure as a supporting fight on a pay-per-view, especially if the UFC lines him up to fight on the year-end show that will likely include Chris Weidman and/or Ronda Rousey (perhaps in the great business sham fight against Gina “Guns” Carano).
-Twitter recycled all the usual jokes about Mousasi’s sleepy demeanor for Gunnar Nelson yesterday. Here’s the formula, if you’re playing at home:
[Mousasi | Nelson] is so [sleepy | emotionless] he [some hacky punchline, usually invokving a pop culture reference].
-Ian McCall, not Irish, took a decision over Brad Pickett, also not Irish. The UFC announced Demetrious Johnson would defend his title against Chris Cariaso in the co-main event of UFC 177, so McCall’s gonna have to wait on a title shot, despite having a much better resume than the former. He’ll probably end up fighting the man he called out in the post-fight interview, John Lineker.
-The pacing for this event was phenomenal. The prelims ended twenty minutes ahead of the start of the main card, but it felt like a natural intermission without 10-15 additional minutes of prep and intro work at the start of the main card broadcast.
Mike Fagan is a weekly contributor to MMA Owl. He also hosts Untethered MMA every Thursday at 7 p.m. ET. Follow him on Twitter.