Irish featherweight star Conor McGregor spent the nearly one year it took him to recover from knee surgery telling everyone who would listen what he was going to do when he finally returned to the Ultimate Fighting Championship cage.
Saturday, he went out and did it.
McGregor stopped Diego Brandao with a series of punches late in the first round in the headlining bout of a card in Dublin.
“I said I would put him away in the first round; I put him away in the first round,” McGregor said. “It would take something special to come over to my hometown and take this away from me. There’s not a man alive that come on this soil and beat me.”
Both fighters fired away with big shots in the opening seconds. McGregor attempted a spinning back kick almost immediately after the two touched gloves. Brandao responded with a couple of right hands and then tried for a takedown.
They eventually went to the ground, but only briefly. When the fight got back to the feet, McGregor landed a body shot and dropped Brandao with a straight left. He followed with an onslaught of right hands until the fight was finally stopped.
McGregor has won all three of his fights in the UFC, and his star is quickly rising.
“Look, what’s next for me is I’m going to go backstage, sit down with (UFC CEO) Mr. Lorenzo Fertitta, drink some fine-ass whiskey and talk about football stadiums,” McGregor said. “Stadiums and world titles — that’s what I want.”
Also on the card, welterweight prospect Gunnar Nelson remained undefeated by submitting Zak Cummings with a rear naked choke in the third round. Nelson is now 4-0 in the UFC, with three wins coming by submission.
Flyweight contender Ian McCall won a unanimous decision over Brad Pickett.
It was just the second time the UFC has held an event in Dublin, and Irish fighters took advantage the occasion by going 5-0 on the card, including Norman Parke’s second-round knockout of Naoyuki Kotani in a lightweight bout.