Conor McGregor's UFC debut had all the makings of a watershed moment in MMA history and the commentators present at the event knew it all too well.
Eight years ago, a professional MMA two-division champion from Ireland began his UFC journey. His name was Conor McGregor. The commentators on duty for the event knew that the 24-year-old kid was not just another debutant. He was a future star.
Why else would they make the statement - "Conor McGregor has shown himself to be a top candidate for world title honors in the coming years" - during his very first UFC appearance?
Conor McGregor had enjoyed a fantastic run since becoming an MMA professional in Ireland. In notching a 12-2 pro-MMA record, McGregor had picked up lightweight and featherweight titles. He also picked up his nickname, 'The Notorious'.
Becoming the first European pro-MMA fighter to hold titles in two divisions simultaneously, Conor McGregor impressed not just UFC president Dana White and a bunch of MMA analysts but even the casual MMA fans.
McGregor arrived at the promotion as the biggest name on the European fighting circuit. His aim was to emulate his rare championship achievement on an even bigger stage. He wanted to become the UFC double-champ.
Conor McGregor vs. Marcus Brimage - UFC on Fuel TV 9
As Conor McGregor walked to the octagon for his UFC debut on April 6, 2013, the commentators were clearly on a mission. They were letting the world know that this Irishman was special and he deserved everyone's attention.
"He is truly the most talented Irish prospect ever to fight in the UFC," started off commentator Mike Goldberg. Indeed, no other Irish fighter had signed up with the UFC with a resume even remotely as impressive as Conor McGregor's.
11 out of 12 of McGregor's professional MMA wins had come via knockout. In addition to his excellent MMA record, the Dublin-born fighter was also an amateur national boxing champion.
Elaborating on why McGregor was a special talent, Goldberg said:
"Nine first-round finishes, the man holds belts in two different weight classes..".
Meanwhile, co-commentator and former UFC fighter Kenny Florian lauded Conor McGregor's striking prowess. He presented McGregor as one of the most complete MMA fighters, praising his well-balanced skillset. Florian said:
"He is a true knock-out artist, he'll knock you out with anything whether it's the feet, his knees, his hands. His head movement is unbelievable, his fakes.. And on top of that, he's got knockout power."
At this point, Kenny Florian also acquainted the audience with McGregor's intention to win the UFC featherweight belt as well as the lightweight title. He teased the listeners with a questioning statement, "Let's see if he's the real deal."
Conor McGregor is part of seven out of ten of the UFC's highest-PPV selling events owing to his confident yet crafty fighting style and brash attitude. Goldberg acknowledged this at the very start of the Irishman's UFC career when he said:
"He's just a dynamic striker and if you want a fun guy to watch, he's your guy."
During the fight, both Marcus Brimage and Conor McGregor went right into each other's faces. However, as Brimage tried to dig inside to get past McGregor's longer range, McGregor was trying to find angles in what would later become his signature fighting style.
Just 30 seconds down into the fight, Florian acknowledged that while Marcus Brimage was landing the bigger shots, Conor McGregor seemed to be the one with a better plan. The commentator's words proved true. The Irishman landed a big uppercut, making Brimage's legs wobble, and forcing 'Ken Flo' to rush through his statement:
"Out of his 12 finishes, 11 are knockouts and he almost did it again," before continuing, "he can find your chin from anywhere! It's unbelievable, look at the angles, he circles. He can fight going forwards, he can fight going backwards."
Meanwhile, Conor McGregor kept on digging into Marcus Brimage before landing another big uppercut. The strike that left Florian screaming, "Look at that upper-cut!", also made Brimage fall down to the mat where McGregor finished him off and secured his first win in the UFC.
Defeating Marcus Brimage in 67 seconds, Conor McGregor picked up his 13th career win and his 12th career knockout. The commentators praised Conor McGregor's UFC debut, calling it "ultra impressive."
The hype that the commentators were creating since the start of the event was backed completely by McGregor's excellent display and distinct striking style.
Florian went back to the question he had himself posed a few minutes back when he claimed, "This kid is the real deal!"
On that day in 2013, Conor McGregor gave hints of his excellent fight-reading capabilities. By not getting into a brawl with Brimage, he showed the mentality of the champion he would go on to become two years later.
Eight years after the win in his UFC debut, Conor McGregor has achieved his dream of becoming the double-champ in the biggest MMA promotion in the world.
A global icon, his first experience inside the UFC octagon will always be remembered for the way the commentators hyped a future phenom.