UFC Fight Night 27: Does Brandon Thatch Have More Potential Than Conor McGregor?

Dustin FilloyFeatured ColumnistAugust 29, 2013

Aug 27, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Brandon Thatch celebrates after beating Justin Edwards during UFC Fight Night 27 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports
Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

They have similar records and fighting styles and, coincidentally, featherweight Conor McGregor and welterweight Brandon Thatch carried similar hype into their UFC debuts.

Thatch also matched McGregor in his debut performance and made an equally emphatic statement with a vicious TKO win.

To make matters even stranger, both the Irishman and the Colorado native pocketed "Knockout of the Night" bonuses in their debuts.

If McGregor arguably represents the most talked about young fighter in the UFC, Thatch has to signify a close runner-up.

Hype aside, though, which young gun, the 25-year-old McGregor or the 28-year-old Thatch, has the better ingredients to make a title run in their respective division?

McGregor and Thatch showed little of their grappling abilities in their debuts, although the Irishman needed his takedown prowess to score a win over Max Holloway in his second fight with the company at UFC Fight Night 26. Afterward, McGregor revealed that he suffered a tear to his anterior cruciate ligament early in the fight—a mishap that forced him to improvise his game plan.

McGregor and Thatch are each gifted strikers who use their wrestling chops to keep fights in the upright position. Not only did both men manage to stay relaxed and confident in brutal standup exchanges in their debuts, but they also both proved that they're natural finishers. 

During a post-fight interview with MMA Fighting's Ariel Helwani, Thatch, who TKO'd Justin Edwards in just 1:23, said he acknowledged the significance of the opportunity but didn't let that get in the way of him having fun.

"[It's] obviously a bigger deal," Thatch said. "It's the best organization in the world, but at the same time, I had a blast with it. I was enjoying everything from the crowd to the amazing Octagon that was there and the crowd [listening] to his music."

Naturally, Thatch and McGregor, who each entered the UFC on impressive eight-fight winning streaks (all finishes), both bypassed the typical first-time Octagon jitters.

Thatch explained his relaxed demeanor and admitted that fighting away from Colorado, where he's fought six times, eased his mind.

"I had fought at home in front of my family and friends," Thatch said. "I was the main event, and this being the undercard was not as much pressure as being at home in front of thousands of your fans and friends and family, so it wasn't quite as scary. I enjoyed it a lot more."

Eerily similar fighting styles, personalities and track records make McGregor and Thatch deserving of the premature attention they've garnered.

As for who will make the most noise in their respective divisions, that distinction will probably go to the healthier of the two. At this point it seems to be Thatch, but as McGregor knows, that could change in an instant.