Courtesy of his previous WWE fame, former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar became the biggest mainstream star the promotion has ever had. Courtesy of his heavy Canadian following, prior welterweight king Georges St-Pierre was the UFC’s biggest pay-per-view draw.
Courtesy of cover girl beauty, dominance inside the cage, Hollywood appearances outside of it, reigning bantamweight champ Ronda Rousey is arguably the UFC’s largest superstar.
Well, move over Lesnar, GSP and Rousey, there’s a new sheriff in town – this, according to UFC president Dana White.
After destroying Dustin Poiror in the first round of their highly-anticipated matchup at UFC 178, something Conor McGregor (pictured) predicted he would do, White claims McGregor is the promotion’s new top dog – past and present.
“Conor McGregor is the real deal, he is legit,” said White on Saturday’s FOX Sports 1 post-fight show. “He is a force that I have never seen. Ever. Bigger than Brock Lesnar when he was here. Bigger than any of the fighters we’ve ever had. Yes, [he’s bigger than St-Pierre]. I’ve never seen anything like this.”
Those are powerful words considering McGregor has only fought four times for the UFC, none of which were for the featherweight title nor as the headliner on a pay-per-view.
However, White is right, McGregor appears to possess the package to becoming a superstar. Despite living and training in Ireland, he managed to turn Saturday’s scrap in Las Vegas into a home game because of the overwhelming amount of Irish fans who bought tickets to see their golden boy perform.
There’s no doubt “Notorious” has the gift of bag. The chatty 26-year-old puts Chael Sonnen to shame, because Sonnen’s best lines were contrived whereas McGregor’s instant classic quotes are off the cuff.
And even though he and Poirier received third-to-top billing at UFC 178, White knows who really moved the needle in Saturday’s PPV buys.
“Let’s just say we’re way over budget,” White revealed of UFC 178’s success. “The numbers, we attributed it to Conor.”
McGregor still has a lot to prove on this stage, but from what we know so far, he’s brash and a bad ass. The UFC is flying him to Brazil to sit front and center to watch featherweight champ Jose Aldo defend his throne against Chad Mendes at UFC 179, which means he’ll most likely get first dibs at the winner.
Life is good if you’re Conor McGregor. Or as McGregor put it at the post-fight presser, ” I whoop people for truck loads of cash. How can I hate this life?”