UFC Fight Night 46 Results: Real Winners and Losers from McGregor vs. Brandao
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.
Winner: Norman Parke
After scoring a majority draw in his last fight, Norman Parke was determined not to leave his fate in the judges' hands this time out.
The Irish lightweight utilized takedowns and relentless ground-and-pound to earn a second-round TKO victory over Naoyuki Kotani. Outside of the majority draw in March, it has been relatively smooth sailing for Parke, who remains unbeaten in the UFC.
McGregor deservedly stands out as Ireland’s biggest MMA star right now, but Parke could definitely be a bit of a dark horse to keep an eye on in the lightweight division.
Loser: Naoyuki Kotani
Not only did Naoyuki Kotani lose his third straight UFC bout, but he was also dominated badly.
After going 0-2 in his first UFC stint, the 32-year-old Japanese fighter returned to the big show on Saturday against Norman Parke. Kotani, who was riding a 13-fight win streak, once again seemed out of place against higher-level opposition.
At this point, one has to wonder if the bright lights are too bright for Kotani. There is a good chance UFC President Dana White takes his recent streak into consideration and offers him one more chance in the UFC.
But it shouldn’t come as a shock if Kotani is immediately sent packing.
Winner: Ian McCall
The creepiest guy on the UFC roster has now turned back-to-back losses into back-to-back wins.
"Uncle Creepy" Ian McCall moved around the Octagon like a ballet performer, shifting in and out of range against flyweight contender Brad Pickett. It was a clean sweep on the judges’ scorecards and a brilliant performance that really brought McCall’s world-class talent to light for casual fans.
People tend to forget that his first two UFC losses came at the hands of flyweight champ Demetrious Johnson and No. 2-ranked flyweight Joseph Benavidez. His first fight with Johnson ended in a draw, and it was fight many felt McCall actually won.
Defeating Pickett could have been just what the doctor ordered to put McCall back into UFC title contention.
Loser: Brad Pickett
Unfortunately for Pickett, he ran into the best mustache in all the land.
The 35-year-old English star once again fell flat in the face of upper-echelon opposition, losing a fairly lopsided unanimous decision to McCall. As Pickett continues to get older and fights keep piling up, people will begin talking less about titles and more about gatekeeper status.
His checkered resume as a UFC fighter currently stands at 4-4. Luckily for Pickett, he’s exciting and talented enough to stick around and make some money while still putting on thrilling fights for fans.
It’ll be interesting to see how his fight game evolves after another devastating loss.
Winner: Gunnar Nelson
Nelson was able to keep his spotless record intact in his co-main event bout with Cummings, but it wasn’t all smooth sailing for the 25-year-old welterweight prospect.
Cummings, who is predominantly known for his grappling, was able to close the distance and make Nelson a bit uncomfortable by getting in his face early in the fight. Nelson’s karate-based stand-up style heavily favors a more finesse way of striking in place of dirty boxing and wild exchanges.
When the action finally hit the floor, the entire fight complexion changed instantly. Nelson proved, once again, just how dangerous his ground game is by immediately taking Cummings’ back and locking in a rear-naked choke.
There will obviously be growing pains for every young star, but if Nelson can continue to improve his striking, the MMA world can expect to see him contending for a UFC title in the near future.
Loser: Diego Brandao
Brandao learned firsthand that there is more to McGregor than just hype.
The TUF 14 winner came into the fight motivated and determined to play spoiler to McGregor’s homecoming. But fate wouldn’t deny the Irishman on Saturday night.
McGregor, once again, stole the show with a notorious entrance and a first-round TKO. Back-to-back losses against ranked opposition should be treated as a learning experience for the 27-year-old Brandao.
There is still much he needs to improve on, particularly in the striking department, if he ever hopes to compete with the best in the world.
Winner: Conor McGregor
Not only can Conor McGregor talk the talk, but in the main event of UFC Fight Night 46, he also reminded the world that he can walk the walk.
Considering all of the hype leading up to the fight, it would have almost been a disappointment if McGregor didn’t finish Brandao in dominant fashion. With the Irish flag draped across his back and the support of thousands of screaming Irishmen in the background, McGregor calmly walked to the cage and completely torched Brandao in the first round by TKO.
A couple of years ago, McGregor made a promise to bring the UFC back to Ireland. As he stood in the cage with his hand raised in victory on Saturday, he could hardly keep from smiling after accomplishing part of his dream.
Of course, the other half of the dream includes a UFC title shot. McGregor hinted at a possible featherweight title fight in a soccer stadium being on deck, but UFC President Dana White was quick to rein in the post-fight talk when speaking on the Fight Pass commentary panel.
While McGregor’s performance against Brandao was something to behold, the young Irish star has a ways to go before he’s knocking on the door for a title shot.
Winner: Dublin, Ireland
For stateside fans, a UFC event typically doesn’t even start until the main card. You can literally hear a pen drop in most American arenas during the early preliminary action of most fight cards.
On Saturday, Ireland looked and acted like a nation starving for UFC action. From start to finish, thousands were on their feet cheering every bout as if it were the main event on a pay-per-view card.
One of the biggest pops of the evening actually came in the opening preliminary bout between Patrick Holohan and Josh Sampo. The partisan crowd greeted the hometown fighter Holohan with a hero’s welcome as he entered the cage and made quick work of the American.
Credit has to be given to McGregor for helping to bring the UFC back to Ireland, but given the explosive reaction from the Irish fans, the UFC will probably be back sooner rather than later.
“Ireland put itself on the map tonight, not just the fans, but the fighters too,” UFC President Dana White said on the Fight Pass panel after the event.
UFC Fight Night 46 Full Card Results
Conor McGregor def. Diego Brandao, Round 1 TKO, 4:05
Gunnar Nelson def. Zak Cummings, Round 2 Submission (rear-naked choke), 4:48
Ian McCall def. Brad Pickett, Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Norman Parke def. Naoyuki Kotani, Round 2 TKO, 3:41
Ilir Latifi def. Chris Dempsey, Round 1 TKO, 2:07
Neil Seery def. Phil Harris, Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Cathal Pendred def. Mike King, Round 2 Submission (rear-naked choke), 3:33
Trevor Smith def. Tor Troeng, Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Nikita Krylov def. Cody Donovan, Round 1 TKO, 4:57
Patrick Holohan def. Josh Sampo, Round 1 Submission (rear-naked choke), 3:06