If Dana White and Joe Rogan were correct, ten per cent of all tickets sold for UFC 178 were to people from Ireland. That is over 1,000 people who flew over the Atlantic for the primary intention of seeing their fellow countryman, Conor McGregor fight live.
They were not left disappointed either as McGregor dispatched Dustin Poirier in the first round in a performance that justified his tremendous hype.
McGregor repeated his calls for a title shot in his post-fight interview, where he also restated his belief that he was by far the best fighter to currently grace the UFC Featherweight division.
The fight against Poirier was McGregor’s fourth, and he maintained his undefeated UFC streak with the victory.
Although Poirier is the only top ten fighter the Irishman has beaten, his next fight in Octagon should come in the form of a title shot against the Mendes vs. Aldo winner.
Yes, that is a controversial call, given the seven-fight win streak of fellow featherweight Dennis Bermudez, the win streak and dominance of Cub Swanson and the continuing presence of former Lightweight champion Frankie Edgar.
However, Bermudez is set to fight Ricardo Lamas on November 15, two and a half weeks after the Aldo vs. Mendes fight will take place.
Swanson and Edgar, on the other hand, are slated to fight each other in the Main Event of UFC Fight Night 57 on November 22, in a fight that will have future title contender implications.
While the winners of both the aforementioned bouts could be next in line for the title (and perhaps deservedly more so than McGregor), the earliest possible line either of them could fight for the title would be early-February.
McGregor, on the other hand, is relatively fresh having suffered no major injuries in his win over Poirier. Should the same happen to Aldo vs. Mendes, a title fight between the two could happen in mid, perhaps even early January.
However, the main reason why the McGregor vs. Aldo/Mendes makes sense has little to do with fighting and more with the ‘other stuff’.
That ‘stuff’ includes the fact that McGregor is one of the most hyped fighters in MMA today, which was boosted even more by his win at UFC 178.
His reception at that event, as well as the news coverage that has followed him after his latest victory, shows that he has developed a large base in his relatively short time in the UFC.
That is something the UFC needs right now, and in a sport where hype and popularity can be gone in the space of a loss, the UFC brass needs to make the most of it now.
McGregor has shown himself to be a top ten fighter with great potential – it is hard to finish three solid featherweights in the first round.
While other featherweights may currently have longer win streaks, it is now McGregor’s time to shine, like it or not.