Forget Jon Jones. Forget Anderson Silva. Forget Georges St. Pierre. Those UFC pay-per-view superstars are now a thing of the past – a past mired in disgrace and retirement. Instead, we have the most dominant female cagefighter ever to assume the mantle of “Top UFC Draw”, and, thanks to a career-defining performance at UFC 189 on Saturday night, we have the newest, biggest star of all.
That’s right, I’m talking about Conor McGregor.
The UFC pulled out all the stops in promoting McGregor, who they had rightly pegged to be the next big thing. They made the ceremony surrounding his crowning as king a showcase of pageantry, complete with a world tour (hyping a fight against Jose Aldo that has yet to happen), extra videos in his honor, and retooling their event production so that fellow Ireland native Sinead O’Connor could sing McGregor to the cage. Keep in mind none of that was done for Jones, Silva, GSP or even Rousey. No, McGregor was treated special from the start, and since he proved worthy of that treatment when he put away Chad Mendes for the interim featherweight belt, that special-ness will be paying dividends – in the form of record-breaking gates, ratings and pay-per-view buys – for while to come.
Maybe Aldo will be next. Maybe it will be Frankie Edgar. It doesn’t really matter. What matters is that a new bar has been set for the UFC in terms of eye-grabbing spectacle.
Welcome to the Conor McGregor era, folks, where big fights may get an even bigger feel to them. That’s not a bad thing at all.