It's amazing to think that it has only been two years since the historic UFC 189 event. The event which saw the introduction of the Reebok fightwear, and was the first and only UFC card which featured Live music for the main event walkouts.
Of course, Conor McGregor was involved in the main event on the night, as fate pitted him against Chad Mendes, for the interim title on short notice. McGregor was originally scheduled to take on long-time featherweight champ Jose Aldo, but the Brazilian king was forced to withdraw with just eleven days to go. In what seems to be a continuing trend, the main event of the PPV card for International Fight Week was doomed.
McGregor living up to his mantra of ‘Anybody, Anytime, Anywhere', saved the show however, and accepted a fight against decorated wrestler Mendes, even though many believed the Alpha Male products style, to be his heel. As the main event drew close, the tension was palpable. The Irish fans were raucous and when Sinead O' Connor began to sing, the nation drew an anticipative breath.
McGregor entered the octagon looking as cool as ever and began to run his mouth at Mendes, as soon as he stood across from the SBGi featherweight. “Let's see who takes a step back first” McGregor repeatedly jabbed at Mendes. As Herb Dean waved them forward, McGregor sprinted forward and landed a spinning heel kick to the body, forcing his adversary back against the cage.
The Dublin native seemed to be controlling the action from the off despite and early takedown, landing hard teeps to the body and left straights repeatedly. Mendes turned the tide however, landing a big takedown and holding McGregor down, even landing a few brutal elbows, one of which cut the Irish man above the right eye.
As the round came to a close it appeared as though McGregor had no answer for the wrestling, proving many of his doubters to be correct. The second round was more of the same with Mendes controlling top position for the majority of the round. That was until the last 30 seconds of the round, when as Mendes went for a Guillotine from top position, McGregor gator-rolled and got back to his feet.
McGregor tee'd off on his opponent for the last twenty seconds, managing to finish the fight with his signature straight left, followed by ground and pound. The Interim title was his to hold high. McGregor jumped on the octagon to embrace his coach John Kavanagh, and the hardened mma vet showed emotion for the first time in his career, even shedding a tear for his accomplishment.
It is crazy to see just how much McGregor's star power has risen over the past two years, as he now embarks on the biggest event in combat sports history. A cross-over fight between boxing and MMA. Fighting Floyd Mayweather. What a difference a couple of years makes!
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