The UFC returned to Ireland for the first time since 2009, storming into Dublin on the back of hometown hype machine Conor McGregor and his first fight in nearly a year.
The night was a memorable one, capping off a solid week for the UFC and seeing McGregor win his third straight in the world's top promotion, as he stopp Diego Brandao in the first round.
This is what we learned from it.
What We'll Remember about This Fight
The Dublin crowd—the hottest the UFC has had in a long time—and how it engaged McGregor throughout the night. From the minute he first appeared on the arena screens to the instant he finished his man, Ireland embraced its biggest MMA star in a way few hometown crowds do.
After Saturday, he might be the country's biggest star, period.
What We Learned about Diego Brandao
He's not afraid of a gun fight but might not be cut out for one, either.
His up-and-down trajectory in the UFC continued at UFC Fight Night 46, as he was more than willing to go toe-to-toe with McGregor and see who would stand up to a proper war. That's not really a surprise given his fiery nature, but it's also not a surprise that someone who's been so hit or miss in the Octagon might not win with such a strategy.
Still, they were commendable terms on which to engage McGregor, terms that surely earned him some points with a crowd that was heavily against him from the get-go.
What We Learned about Conor McGregor
He's going to talk. And talk. And talk some more.
He's going to sell himself, his fights and anything related to those things as hard as anyone in the game.
He's going to heap pressure onto himself while the rest of the world watches in amazement, wondering how much he can stand up to before he buckles.
Then he's going to go out into that maelstrom of attention he's created and exceed expectations.
The only thing bigger for McGregor than returning home to Dublin at this point is a shot at the featherweight title. To this point, he's handled everything in his UFC career with incredible poise, and there's little reason to think the train is going to slow down anytime soon.
At a time when the UFC needs stars like the rest of us need air, the promotion might very well have its man.
What's Next for Brandao
A fight with McGregor's original opponent, Cole Miller, might work. The two are similarly ranked, have a penchant for feistiness both in and out of the cage and possess styles that would mesh for a good fight.
What's Next for McGregor
The two most logical options for McGregor depend on how far the UFC wants to jump him in competition.
If it wants to go all-in on him, a bout with Dustin Poirier would work, as both are young guns just on the fringe of title talk. They also share a common opponent in Brandao, whom they both defeated in previous bouts.
If the UFC would like him to take a step in between where he is now and that upper echelon of the division, Jeremy Stephens makes sense next. He's a durable veteran who won't be steamrolled by anyone and has been a nasty commodity at featherweight, consistently resting in the top 10.
Either way, it's nothing but serious business for the Irishman from here on out.
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