If all the hype that preceded UFC Fight Night 46 got to Irish star Conor McGregor, he certainly didn't show it. McGregor's performance against Brazilian Diego Brandao at the O2 Arena in Dublin was not only cool and methodical, but it was good enough for the UFC to award him a Performance of the Night bonus check for $50,000.
McGregor finished Brandao in the first round via TKO (strikes), as the decibel level shook to 111 inside the arena.
McGregor blossomed into a star not only in his native Ireland but also in the States while rehabbing his knee after ACL surgery in September, a transcendent quality that UFC president Dana White calls an "it factor." The fighter known as "Notorious" last fought in August of last year on the prelims in Boston, when he defeated Hawaiian fighter Max Holloway. Even with the inactivity, the UFC calculated his return to coordinate with a visit to Ireland.
It was a lucrative return for the featherweight, as well as a homecoming.
Also taking home a POTN check was Icelandic figher, Gunnar Nelson, who overcame some awkwardness in the early parts of his fight with Zak Cummings to score a rear naked choke victory in the second round. Nelson, who trains with McGregor, is now primed to test himself against top ten competition in the UFC's welterweight division.
The Fight of the Night went to Irish fighter Cathal Pendred, who had to survive a tumultuous first round -- where several times it looked like he was on the verge of getting finished -- against TUF teammate Mike King en-route to scoring a submission victory. White referred to it as one of the greatest comebacks he'd see in the UFC in the post-fight press conference.
Both Pendred and King took home $50,000 each.