Conor McGregor finally makes his long-awaited return this weekend on home soil at UFC Fight Night 46 in Dublin, Ireland. “The Notorious” will battle injury replacement Diego Brandao in a fight that should produce plenty of fireworks. Both men have proven to be strong finishers during their respective careers, and the weigh-in showed that plenty of bad blood exists between them.
McGregor had initially been pegged to face veteran Cole Miller in his first Octagon main event clash, but Miller was forced out due to a thumb injury. The Irish slugger has been quick to make enemies with just about every top-contender in the 145-pound weight class. During his relatively brief UFC tenure, McGregor has provided plenty of notable quotes slamming the best fighters in the division. Brandao will get the next opportunity to derail the cocky Irish fighter, but it won’t be an easy assignment.
The former Cage Warriors star came to the UFC with a tremendous amount of hype and has been successful in his first two appearances. He recorded a quick first-round knockout of Marcus Brimage and followed that up with a decision win over Max Holloway. It was during that contest against the Hawaiian at Fight Night 26 that McGregor sustained a torn ACL.
Being on the sidelines didn’t slow down his trash-talk, and now he’s ready to deliver some mayhem again. The No. 13 ranked McGregor is well-versed in the striking department with 12 knockouts in 14 career victories. McGregor is currently riding a ten-fight undefeated streak and would likely enter the top-10 rankings with another win. He’s confident that he’s closer to a potential title shot than most people would think. It’ll no doubt be a wild reception for McGregor in getting the opportunity to headline a UFC card in front of his Irish brethren at the O2 arena.
Brandao will be looking to spoil the party, and this certainly represents a high-risk, high-reward opportunity. The former winner of The Ultimate Fighter hasn’t fought since being knocked out in the first-round by Dustin Poirier at UFC 168. Since that loss, Brandao saw a scheduled fight against Will Chope fall through and was later forced off the TUF Brazil 3 Finale card due to an injury.
He’s compiled a 4-2 UFC record with the biggest win coming against Dennis Bermudez to claim the TUF Season 14 crown. Brandao has produced 14 knockout or submission victories in his 18 career wins. ”DB” possesses formidable power and strong Brazilian jiu-jitsu skills.
This matchup has the potential to be quite a slugfest. McGregor will be more pumped than usual fighting on his home turf, while Brandao will be looking to revive his career by pulling off the upset. It’s unlikely that the judges’ scorecards will be needed for this one.
If McGregor is victorious, the brash Irishman will no doubt put the division’s elite on full blast that he’s coming for them.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports