By Laurence W. Holmes–
(CBS) I surrender.
That’s what Jose Aldo may have said if his fight strategy wasn’t so poor. Aldo didn’t get the chance to utter anything, because he got laid out by Conor McGregor 13 seconds into the UFC featherweight championship bout Saturday in Las Vegas.
This is about me. As a fan of combat sports, my feelings on McGregor have been mixed. There’s part of me that loves the McGregor backstory. He’s a force in the octagon, a hero to the people of Ireland and a relentless worker. His forward-thinking ideas of “movement” in training makes him an impossible opponent to game-plan for.
Then there’s the over-the-top, cartoonish McGregor, who’s never seen a camera or microphone he doesn’t like. It’s the braggart, the WWE wannabe version of McGregor who I can’t stand. Confidence is an important commodity that every fighter needs, and he has it in spades. Because of this, I found myself in a weird position before UFC 194 (not in the triangle choke). I’m no fan of Aldo, as great of a fighter as he is. So I had no rooting interest at all going into the bout, with one exception: I was rooting for chaos.
Chaos would’ve befallen the UFC had McGregor lost. Why? Because it would mean that in back-to-back pay-per-view events, the biggest star on the women’s side, Ronda Rousey, and the biggest star on the men’s side, McGregor, would have been beaten, and UFC president Dana White would have had to scramble.
On Saturday night, McGregor won, exactly the way he said he would. I give him credit for that and put a lot of blame on Aldo for going outside his mind and rushing a fighter who’s been known to be a good striker. After the fight, McGregor talked about holding on to the featherweight belt, while possibly moving up and fighting in the lightweight division. This excites me. And it should excite the UFC.
McGregor’s frame has always been one that can carry more weight. If he can fight in two divisions, it means more McGregor for the UFC. Maybe instead of two fights a year, he has four. Perhaps a January-May-August-November schedule could be done.
I’ll put up with the show of McGregor if it means watching him fight more, because he’s a beautiful fighter. I’m also curious if he can pull it off. He’s talked openly about the struggle to cut weight. In his scenario of fighting in both weight classes, he’d have to yo-yo between 145 pound and 155 pounds, and anyone who has ever had to cut weight will tell you it’s really difficult.
To quote the Lupe Fiasco song: “If you are what you say you are … a superstar … then have no fear.”
McGregor has talked the talk and walked the walk — so far. If he were able to do this, it would be legendary.
Laurence Holmes hosts the Laurence Holmes Show on 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @LaurenceWHolmes.