UFC Fight Night Dublin – Weigh Ins Review

It may have been expected, but it was still a sight to behold. When Conor McGregor emerged at today’s weigh-ins, bare-chested and draped in a tri-colour, the 02 erupted into utter pandemonium. Sprinting up the tiny flight of stairs before flinging his cap at a visibly agitated Diego Brandao, the SBG man looked simply ferocious.

Coming in at 146lbs-a half pound heavier than the Brazilian- the Dubliner was quickly separated from Brandao by Dana White. If Brandao’s interview was inaudible, due to a rafts of boos, McGregor’s was typically box-office; grabbing the mic from an unsuspecting Andy Freelander, he bellowed his intention to remove his opponents head, then departed to the same level of noise which greeted him.

All the Irish fighters, including the honorary ones, got a rapturous welcome. From Paddy Holohan to Cathal Pendred, Neil Seery, Norman Parke, Gunni Nelson and McGregor, the ovation was immense.

Now, the stage is set, literally and metaphorically, the time is almost finally upon us. The fighters have made weight (apart from Holohan’s opponent Josh Sampo, who came in at 126.6lbs), fulfilled their media obligations and, now, their sole remaining responsibility is to handle business inside the cage.

Tomorrow night all eyes will turn to Dublin. BT Sports, 3e and Fight Pass will collectively beam the 02 and Ireland’s finest fighters into an untold amount of homes around the globe. Arguably, it was March 3, 1995 when Ireland was last the lone focal point of a world-wide sporting event. That night in Millstreet, Cork, Steve Collins took the WBO Super middleweight title from Chris Eubank.

Almost 20 years on, a fighter who grew up idolising Collins, will also be roared on by a heaving home support. Conor McGregor, temporarily at least, will be Ireland’s best-known son. And, if his career is to continue on its current trajectory, that could well become a more permanent title.

Patriotic bias notwithstanding, it is difficult to foresee Diego Brandao troubling, let alone defeating the Dubliner. Beyond the considerable disparity in ability, the level of fortitude and mental strength required to derail McGregor’s headlining homecoming is only in the wheelhouse of a select group of fighters. Beating an incredibly focused man, arriving at the peak of his powers, with an entire nation at his back, feels far too colossal a task for the Brazilian.

Yet, such are the fine margins, even a moment of indecision on McGregor’s part, and that notion could quickly evaporate-the former-Jackson’s MMA export does have genuine knockout power. Moreover, if, like McGregor has stated, Brandao is scared, he did a bang up job of concealing it. That said, the outcome feels set in stone.