As a former two-division Cage Warriors champion, Conor McGregor joined the UFC in 2013 with great hype surrounding him. The Notorious One's crafty and violent knockout victories captured the world's attention, and UFC fans were excited to see the Irishman inside the Octagon.
After winning a second title in Cage Warriors, Conor McGregor was promptly offered the opportunity to sign with the UFC by Dana White, and the Irishman gladly obliged. On April 6, 2013, it was time for The Notorious One to back up all the talk inside the Octagon.
Conor McGregor was set to make his UFC debut against Marcus Brimage in a featherweight matchup. Although McGregor was just 24 at the time and hadn't proved himself on the biggest stage, he had amassed 11 KO victories already. Thanks to his prolific striking and knockout victories at Cage Warriors, everyone was eager to see him perform inside the Octagon.
When he stepped inside the Octagon for the first time, McGregor put up a striking masterclass. With a barrage of spinning kicks, knee strikes and one-two combinations, it didn't take McGregor more than a minute to lay his opponent to waste.
Fight fans across the globe watched in awe as The Notorious One marked his arrival in the UFC with a spectacular knockout victory against Brimage. Since then, there has been no looking back for the southpaw as he became a two-division champion in the promotion.
While it was still early days for him, Conor McGregor's spectacular UFC debut already gave us a glimpse of the greatness he later went on to achieve. Let's take a look at the few signs we got from McGregor's first bout in the UFC that indicated he might go on to become one of the greatest fighters in the history of the sport.
#1 Conor McGregor's penchant for knockouts and the ability to make them look easy
Conor McGregor's record of knockout victories is incredible. Out of the 22 victories he's amassed in his professional career, 19 came via knockout. His first-round knockout win over Brimage showed the world that McGregor indeed has a touch of death in his left hand. He puts people to sleep and also makes it look easy.
We later saw examples of McGregor's knockout artistry in fights against Jose Aldo and Eddie Alvarez at UFC 194 and UFC 205 respectively. The Irishman combined a wide range of strikes with devastating knockout power in his bout against Brimage.
His credentials were never in doubt, but after his debut, it was established that McGregor is a dangerous beast inside the Octagon.
#2 The ability to keep a cool head inside the Octagon
Conor McGregor might seem like a brash trash talker outside the cage, but inside he is a picture of calm and composure. In the fight against Brimage, McGregor kept a cool head and picked his shots instead of rushing in for the kill.
In the beginning, it was Brimage who was landing good shots. However, McGregor never panicked and showed great mastery of range to keep Brimage at bay.
He kept changing angles and waiting for the right opportunity to finish the job. Once he caught Brimage with a good uppercut that rocked him, McGregor sensed blood. Like a tiger pouncing on its prey, McGregor landed a flurry of vicious left-hand strikes and that was all she wrote.
The methodical breakdown of Brimage proved that McGregor hunts in cold blood inside the cage. In most of his later fights, he displayed similar levels of composure inside the octagon.
After the fight, McGregor even said that he knew his opponent was emotionally attached to the fight and would look to force the issue. The Irishman said his game plan was to capitalize on the same and he did it ruthlessly.
#3 The aura of mystique and unpredictability in McGregor's striking
From his first fight in the UFC, Conor McGregor proved that he is one of the best and the most dangerous strikers in the world. McGregor's movement was nippy. The Irishman moved in and out, causing damage to the opponent and changing the angle immediately before letting him react.
Another thing that added to Conor McGregor's mystique inside the cage is his capoeira-influenced style. McGregor could launch a spinning kick to the body or the head of his opponent at any point in the fight.
This instilled a fear of the unknown in McGregor's opponents. They couldn't predict the Irishman's next move. That's what McGregor used to his advantage in the fight against Brimage.
The use of spinning kicks, front kicks, knee strikes and change of angles had Brimage rattled. That's when the Irishman made the unpredictability count and used his famed left hand to finish the job at hand.
#4 Ability to rouse crowds
There is nothing more thrilling for UFC fans than watching flashy knockouts inside the Octagon. McGregor's prolific striking and his penchant for knockout victories made him a crowd favorite from his very first day in the promotion.
McGregor's knockout victory against Brimage brought him under the spotlight that he was always meant to grab.
His knockout victories, coupled with his antics outside the cage and a very sharp tongue, turned Conor McGregor into arguably the most popular and most polarizing athlete in combat sports.
#5 McGregor has his way with words
Conor McGregor sure knows how to talk a big game. He knows how to use trash talk to crawl under the skin of his opponents and work up a crowd. There are some fighters who provide wholesome entertainment inside the cage but are quiet people outside of it. Conor McGregor is a complete package.
He leaves no stone unturned in promoting his fights and often says the most outrageous stuff. However, the surprising thing is that he also backs them up. Throughout his career, there have been many fights where Conor McGregor himself called the rounds of his victory and got them right.
You don't really come across a man who has the capability to do the unthinkable inside the Octagon as well as the courage to speak it very often. But the outspoken Irishman is definitely one of them.
Conor McGregor's callout to Dana White for the knockout of the night award following the win against Brimage will forever be etched in the minds of fight fans.
"Dana, 60 geez, baby," screamed Conor McGregor into the microphone as the crowd erupted.