It took Rafael dos Anjos just 66 seconds to dispatch Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone in the first defense of his UFC lightweight title, and just like two fighters before him, he wasted no time calling out featherweight champ Conor McGregor following the win.
In the week following UFC 194 and leading into Saturday’s UFC on FOX event in Orlando, both dos Anjos and Cerrone were asked dozens of times about McGregor’s proclamation that he’d be gunning for the lightweight title in his next fight.
There’s little doubt that McGregor is the biggest payday for any fighter on the UFC roster right now, and dos Anjos took his cue like he was a seasoned thespian as he took aim at the Irishman.
"Conor McGregor, if you want to come to the lightweight division, know that this is my division. You should stay at featherweight. I will fight you in Brazil. I will go to Ireland to face you. I’m here to stay."
Despite the fact that he’s at home in Ireland still celebrating his win over Jose Aldo, McGregor was the talk of the town on Saturday night with three fighters, including the lightweight champ, asking for a fight with him.
Charles Oliveira kicked things off by submitting Myles Jury in the featured prelim of the night before calling for a fight with the featherweight champion.
"I’m coming," Oliveira said looking straight into the camera. "Conor (McGregor) don’t get happy ’cause I’m going to get you."
While most of his interview couldn’t be heard on television thanks to an expletive-laden rant (watch above), Nate Diaz expressed his desire to face McGregor following his unanimous decision win over Michael Johnson.
"You know what’s the real money fight, and it’s me, not these clowns you already punked at the press conference,” Diaz told McGregor through Joe Rogan.
There have been a lot of interesting UFC storylines in 2015, but it’s clear as the year comes to an end that McGregor is the person on everyone’s mind, and there’s a growing list of fighters who want to cash the lottery ticket to face him in the Octagon.
It’s an understandable call-out from dos Anjos, who doesn’t have an obvious contender standing in line to face him next anyways. There’s a lightweight battle between Anthony Pettis and Eddie Alvarez coming up in January, but neither would be ideal for dos Anjos. He took the title from Pettis in dominant fashion in March, and Alvarez is only a couple of fights into his UFC career with a 1-1 record, including a loss to Cerrone, as he gets ready to face the former lightweight champion Pettis in a few weeks’ time. The most deserving candidate would be Khabib Nurmagomedov, who was the last fighter to defeat dos Anjos, but he hasn’t fought since April due to injury.
Outside of those choices, Tony Ferguson is probably the best contender in the division after winning seven fights in a row, but dos Anjos clearly sees dollar signs in his eyes with the possibility of facing McGregor.
Considering McGregor pulled in the two largest US gates in UFC history with his main events at UFC 189 and UFC 194, not to mention a pair of pay-per-views that will go down alongside Ronda Rousey’s most recent fights as the biggest moneymakers of the year, it makes sense just about everyone wants a piece of him.
Now McGregor can call his shot when it comes to what’s next for him, whether it’s dos Anjos or a featherweight showdown with top contender Frankie Edgar. The funny thing is McGregor already predicted this happening in September when he first confronted dos Anjos and Cerrone about fighting for the lightweight title after he was finished with Aldo.
"I can make you rich," McGregor said at the “Go Big” press conference. "I change your bum life. You fight me, it’s a celebration. When you sign to fight me, it’s a celebration. You ring back home, you ring your wife. ‘Baby, we’ve done it. We’re rich, baby. Conor McGregor made us rich. Break out the red panties. We’re rich, baby.’
"So don’t say you wouldn’t take that fight, because you would take that fight like everyone else up here would take the fight against me if it was offered, regardless of belts or any of that s–t. I’m the money fight and the male s–t at all weight divisions. So f–k everybody else up here."
Judging by the reaction McGregor received from three of the top five fighters on the card Saturday night, “Mystic Mac” is right on the money once again.