LAS VEGAS — Conor McGregor predicted he would put away Jose Aldo in the first round, but he actually needed only 13 seconds as he landed a vicious knockout shot in the opening exchange of Saturday night’s UFC 194 main event to become the new undisputed featherweight champion.
After all the bad blood and bad words shared between the two fighters for the past year, McGregor lived up to his promise as he stood and traded with Aldo as soon as referee John McCarthy started the fight.
Aldo threw with power but McGregor countered with a beautifully accurate straight left hand that nailed the Brazilian flush in the chin and sent him to the canvas flat on his back.
McGregor followed with a barrage of strikes, and the fight was stopped as McCarthy rushed to stop Aldo from enduring further punishment.
The stoppage at 13 seconds was the fastest in UFC title fight history, topping Ronda Rousey’s 14-second KO of Cat Zingano earlier this year.
"No power, just precision," McGregor said about the punch that ended the fight. "No speed, just timing. These are fundamentals. That’s all it takes. These are four-ounce gloves, that’s all it takes when you take my left hand. Nobody can take that left-hand shot."
The crowd at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, decorated primarily in Ireland’s colors, erupted as McGregor climbed to the top of the cage to celebrate his victory and pointed at his fans and supporters throughout the arena.
McGregor has been predicting a dominant victory over Aldo for more than a year, but it’s unlikely even he thought it would take him less than one minute to put away Aldo, who’d been regarded by many as the pound-for-pound best fighter in mixed martial arts.
"Nobody can take that left-hand shot," McGregor said. "He’s powerful and he’s fast, but precision beats power and timing beats speed. That’s what I saw out there."
In the hours leading up to the fight, the betting lines in Las Vegas shifted with McGregor actually moving from the favorite to the underdog, with a lot of money on Aldo coming in at the last minute.
Obviously, McGregor’s confidence never waned, and it took him only one punch to do what no fighter has done in more than nine years: put Aldo away.
"I feel for Jose, he’s a phenomenal champion. He was a phenomenal champion and he deserved to go a little bit longer," McGregor said. "But I still feel at the end of the day, precision beats power and timing beats speed every day of the week."
The victory capped a breakthrough 2015 for McGregor, who has won three fights this year, including a second-round TKO of Chad Mendes at UFC 189 that won McGregor the interim title. McGregor says he soaked it all in this week and really enjoyed his time becoming champion.
"Yesterday at the weigh-in I didn’t want to give up the stage," McGregor said. "The last time in July when I fought that time, I didn’t embrace it all and I wanted to just embrace it more because it’s over before you even know it and you’re like ‘I wish I was in the moment a bit more,’ so this time I was a hell of a lot more getting into the moment and enjoyed the whole process."
As for Aldo, the former champion immediately asked for a rematch, although after a 13-second knockout it’s unknown if the UFC will look to book the same fight again or give the shot to Frankie Edgar, who won on Friday night with a first-round TKO of Mendes at "The Ultimate Fighter" finale.
"I threw a punch and he came back with another cross and that was that," Aldo said. "I think that we need to rematch; it was really not a fight so we need to get back in here."
McGregor has had plenty to say since arriving in the UFC, but to date he’s backed up his every proclamation both inside and outside the Octagon. Stopping Aldo in just 13 seconds was a result no one expected, but McGregor now stands tall as the reigning featherweight champion and the king of the UFC.