From Conor McGregor’s war scream at the weigh-ins to Gunnar Nelson’s emotionless stare, there was a special feeling in the air heading into UFC Fight Night 46.
The transcendent energy brimming from the atmosphere of the O2 Arena in Dublin, Ireland, toyed with the reality of the event being a typical fight night on UFC Fight Pass. Fight Night 46 was all about hype, and McGregor, the heart of Dublin, stood in the middle of it all.
The notorious homecoming for the featherweight star was truly reminiscent of Georges St-Pierre in Canada or Anderson Silva in Brazil. For years, the Irish nation has patiently waited for a golden child to call its own, and its prayers have seemingly been answered by the smooth-talking and supremely talented 145-pound McGregor.
But seeing is believing, and bolstering a 2-0 UFC record does little to convince the masses a fighter is ready to swim with the upper-echelon sharks in the division.
Standing across from McGregor on Saturday was The Ultimate Fighter Season 14 winner, Diego Brandao. The unranked Brazilian featherweight hoped to make some noise in enemy territory by derailing one of the UFC’s fastest-rising stars.
Along with McGregor, undefeated welterweight star Gunnar Nelson took center stage in a co-main event bout with TUF Season 17 member Zak Cummings. The Iceland native has been heralded as one of the premier grapplers in the world and a future UFC title contender. He is also a training partner of McGregor’s.
So how did hype fare on the pressurized UFC stage for these young contenders? Here are the real winners and losers from Fight Night 46.