Former UFC two-division champion Conor McGregor's UFC debut against Marcus Brimage came exactly eight years ago on April 6th in 2013. The Notorious One was of the biggest names in the European MMA circuit at the time. He entered the UFC Octagon with a lot of hype with fans eager to see him compete on the biggest MMA platform in the world.
On the eighth anniversary of Conor McGregor's UFC debut, ESPN MMA posted a short clip of his first-ever walk to the UFC Octagon. McGregor walked into the arena holding the Irish national flag with his trademark swagger.
The Irishman is one of the few combat sports athletes that make all three aspects of a fight memorable - the walkout, the post-fight formalities, and the performance itself.
Conor McGregor was a sensational knockout artist in Cage Warriors before signing with the UFC. The promotion has produced stars like Dan Hardy, Michael Bisping, Gegard Mousasi, and the UFC's latest acquisition, Paddy Pimblett.
After his first attempt to sign a UFC contract was unsuccessful, McGregor presented a solid case by defeating Ivan Buchinger to win the Cage Warriors lightweight championship. McGregor had previously held the featherweight title in the promotion. The two-division champ status and charisma made the Irishman one of the biggest sensations in the European MMA circuit.
Impressed with Conor McGregor's personality during a visit to Ireland, UFC president Dana White invited the Irishman to Las Vegas to sign a multi-fight contract with the company. Conor McGregor's UFC debut came a little over four months after he won the belt in Cage Warriors.
However, despite having competed in the lightweight division in his last few fights with Cage Warriors, McGregor made his UFC debut as a featherweight. He later moved up to lightweight after winning the 145-lb title from former champion Jose Aldo in December of 2015.
How well did Conor McGregor's UFC debut go?
Conor McGregor's UFC debut against Marcus Brimage came on the preliminary card of UFC on Fuel TV 9. McGregor knocked Brimage down with a left hook and an uppercut and landed a few follow-up shots to finish the fight at the 1:07 mark of the very first round.
Conor McGregor displayed his ability to fight long by keeping his much-shorter opponent at the end of his punches. He showed patience and the mentality of a champion by not getting drawn into the firefight that Brimage wanted.
However, evolution in the Irishman's counter striking is evident in his later fights. Conor McGregor's UFC debut saw him get repeatedly hit with strikes that his later opponents were viciously countered for throwing.