LAS VEGAS – After 13 seconds of work and one well-envisioned and well-placed left hook, Conor McGregor spent more than a few minutes walking around the octagon and absorbing the cheers from his fellow Irish countrymen.
This was the coronation of a new king.
McGregor, the biggest star in mixed martial arts, knocked out reigning featherweight champion Jose Aldo at UFC 194 to become the undisputed king of the 145-pound division Saturday night.
The sell-out crowd of 16,516 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena exploded when the referee stepped in over a fallen Aldo to stop the fight.
“The Strip is going to be green, white and orange tonight,” McGregor said.
The 13-second duration set a new UFC record for fastest knockout in a championship fight, breaking Ronda Rousey’s record of 14 seconds set earlier this year.
“Jose has been a phenomenal champion,” McGregor said. “It would have been nice if the contest had stretched out a little bit longer, just to, just for all that it’s been through. I still feel the same process would have happened. Timing beats speed. Precision beats power.”
McGregor said several times during fight week that Aldo’s right hand would get him into trouble. He was right.
Aldo rushed in to start the fight and wound up with a big right hand. The shot hit McGregor as he was slipping to his left. McGregor’s left hook hit Aldo flush and dropped him immediately. Two hammer fists later, the fight was over.
“I knew he would overextend, and I knew I’d catch him,” said McGregor (19-2, 7-0 UFC). “So ‘Mystic Mac’ strikes again.”
McGregor has a history of accurately predicting how his fights will play out and in what round they’ll end.
“If you can see it here and you have the courage enough to speak it, it will happen,” McGregor said. “I see these shots, I see these sequences and I don’t shy away from them.
“He was currently the pound-for-pound no. 1 fighter on the roster, undefeated for 10 years, the company’s only featherweight champion,” McGregor said. “Who comes in and predicts one-round KOs? I did, and I did.”
McGregor has several options in play for his next week. There’s Frankie Edgar awaiting the next featherweight title shot after his first-round knockout of Chad Mendes on Friday night. There’s the possibility of a rematch with Aldo (25-2, 7-1).
And then there’s a scenario where McGregor moves up to lightweight.
And, of course, there’s option No. 4: whatever McGregor says he wants to do.
“Maybe I feel there’s a couple of contenders in the mix, let them maybe complete against each other while I go up and take the lightweight belt,” McGregor said. “Allow a contender to emerge, and go back down and take out that contender and then go back up after a lightweight contender has emerged and take out that contender.”
The UFC has been clear in recent years that if a champion wants to change weight classes, he or she has to vacate the belt. McGregor made it clear that such an act would not occur with him.
“If I go up to that lightweight there’s no way I’m vacating my belt,” McGregor said. “That’s not happening. They’ll be a belt on one shoulder and a belt on the other shoulder.”