On July 19th, 2014, Conor McGregor was preparing for his third fight in the UFC. Taking center stage in his hometown of Dublin in front of a buzzing Irish crowd at the 3Arena, the former CWFC featherweight champion rightfully established his place in the UFC with a four-minute TKO win over Diego Brandao.
The message from Conor McGregor was loud and clear. His post-fight interview echoed through the entire 3Arena and was fittingly heard by everyone who had followed the journey of the former Cage Warriors sensation to that point.
"We're not here to take part, we're here to take over," McGregor proclaimed.
And with that message, The Notorious One had announced his arrival to the big stage and proved that he had the backing of his entire nation. From there on, it only took three fights for Conor McGregor to finally find himself standing across the octagon against Jose Aldo. A route that included dominant wins over Dustin Poirier, Dennis Siver, and an interim title win over Chad Mendes.
Conor McGregor declares war with The King of Rio
Fast forward to December 2015. Jose Aldo was riding on an impressive 18-fight win streak. The Brazilian was totally unstoppable in the featherweight division and had compiled wins throughout the course of a decade. However, with an impressive win streak of six fights in the UFC, it looked like The King of Rio had finally found his match in Conor McGregor.
What was regarded as one of the most marketable fights in UFC history also saw the inclusion of a world tour across 12 cities that included Rio de Janerio, Dublin, London, and Las Vegas. During which, of course, McGregor quite precisely gave a dose of his incredible trash-talking skills to the Mixed Martial Arts world.
With McGregor heading into the UFC 194 bout as the Interim Champion, the stakes were further raised for the Undisputed World Title fight. And in the lead-up to the December 12 scrap, there was absolutely no love lost between the two men, especially after McGregor had claimed to "kill anyone that wasn't fit to work", in Rio de Janeiro of all places. The same city where Aldo had established himself as a legend of the game to such an extent that he was nicknamed 'The King of Rio'.
UFC 194: The Notorious One makes history within 13 seconds
Come December 12, 2015, an electric audience was set for a clash of a lifetime. Arguably two of the greatest featherweights in UFC history took center stage in Las Vegas, as the fans expected a thrilling fight between the 145-ers. However, what the entire world witnessed next was one of the fastest finishes in UFC history.
In the lead-up to the opening bell, Conor McGregor looked calm and composed, quite possibly the most relaxed a fighter has ever been during a championship fight. Meanwhile, there was a certain anxiety in Aldo's body language, the constant swinging of his left arm was a clear sign that the reigning champion was determined to dispatch his rival. All the trash-talk leading up to that fight had tested Aldo's patience level and the Brazilian was ready to put away McGregor.
With no touch of the gloves, Jose Aldo and Conor McGregor started the fight by squaring-off in the middle of the Octagon. The aura of tension across the entire arena was almost visible by this point, McGregor opening with a few kicks to Aldo's quad. In what seemed like a move triggered by anticipation, Aldo charged in and swung his left hand, only to be caught with the infamous McGregor left hand. A shot that slept Jose Aldo within 13 seconds, a shot that initiated the reign of The Notorious One, and declared Conor McGregor as the Undisputed UFC World Champion.
“Nobody can take that left hand shot. He's powerful and he's fast, but precision beats power and timing beats speed."
Five years to the day, Conor McGregor's KO of Jose Aldo remains a pivotal point of this sport. The win over Jose Aldo confirmed the Irishman as a global superstar and his return in January of 2021 at UFC 257 definitely promises to be special.
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