Conor McGregor carried the weight of the expectations of his entire country into the Octagon with him on Saturday at Dublin's O2 Arena.
But if the bombastic Irish featherweight was nervous, he never showed it. McGregor fed off one of the most raucous atmospheres in UFC history and finished former Ultimate Fighter champion Diego Brandao in the main event of UFC Fight Night 46.
"I said I was going to put him away in the first round," said McGregor (15-2). "I put him away in the first round."
Brandao and McGregor went at it from the outset. The fact McGregor hasn't been tested on the ground has been one of his big question marks, and Brando attempted submissions left and right from the bottom. But McGregor stayed active and Brandao could never quite sink in a sub attempt.
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There are fewer questions about what McGregor can do in the standup. Once the fight got back to the feet, McGregor took over. He landed a couple solid body kicks then a monster straight left hand which dropped Brandao. Brandao covered up on the mat and McGregor dished out shots until the bout was waved off at 4:05.
"It would have to be something special to come into my hometown and take this away from me," said McGregor. "There's not a man who can beat me on my home soil."
While the big unanswered question remains how McGregor will fare against the elite competition at 145 pounds, McGregor proved he can handle the pressure of headlining what was a major event in Ireland, and he proved himself a superstar in his homeland on par with any international MMA star in their home country.
McGregor talked about wanting to fight in a larger, outdoor venue the next time the UFC puts on a show in Ireland.
"What's next, I'm going to sit down with Lorenzo Fertitta, toss some fine Irish whiskey, and talk about some football stadiums next," McGregor said.