Last night, I started believing in Conor McGregor.

Have you?

When was it?

Was it when he predicted a first round knockout over a respected featherweight opponent — and delivered just that?

Was it when you heard that his country shut down to watch this man fight? No, not for the national football (soccer) team — just for the one guy?

Was it when you realized punch-drunk MMA fans were Googling Sinead O’Connor in the middle of a card, because they heard her rendition of Foggy Dew (with the Chieftains) herald his walk to the cage? Sinead O’Connor? Really?

Was it when you saw flag-waving Irish supporters of McGregor seemingly outnumber their American counterparts in Las Vegas? Was it when you heard 10% of the tickets sold for UFC 178 were for fans in the Republic of Ireland, a country of just 5 million or so about 5000 miles away?

Was it Dana White boasting, “McGregor is the real deal; bigger than Brock Lesnar and bigger than Georges St-Pierre,” on the UFC 178 post-fight show?

Or, was it in the cage?

That’s where it was for me. Regarding all the hype, well, as Conor himself said as held court in the UFC 178 press conference, “I’m just playing on stage, I’m having fun. It’s all fun and games at the end of the day.”

The truth is in the cage, and we’ve got something very special in Conor McGregor.

As Jack Slack put it earlier this month in an article entitled Conor McGregor is the Future of Mixed Martial Arts: “McGregor is just sublime” — and, “embodies everything the sport of Mixed Martial Arts needs.”

Slack broke down the fascinating movement and striking that McGregor employs — that of a man who fought his way into the big league, and hasn’t stopped growing.” Slack breaks down the southpaw’s counter-punching style and flashy kicks — and how McGregor’s unique synthesis is poised to take over MMA.

He just keeps getting better in the cage. Do you feel that watching top featherweight contender Chad Mendes? Do you feel that watching featherweight champion Jose Aldo?

It’s time to believe — forget the flags, forget the hype. Believe what you see in the cage.

There, you’ll see Conor McGregor is a champion in the making.

But hey, the hype is pretty good too. Enjoy this press conference: