Conor McGregor’s journey to stardom really began to accelerate when the UFC allowed him to make headlines in his hometown.
In July 2014, MMA’s premier promotion returned to the Irish capital for the first time in five years after ‘Notorious’ made a splash early in his career with the company.
Naturally, he competed in the main event, and tickets were quickly snapped up by fans eager to watch elite-level MMA at Dublin’s 3Arena, formerly known as the O2 Arena.
McGregor did not disappoint his compatriots by inflicting a knockout in the first round.
The featherweight prospect moved a step closer to top-level competition by defeating exciting veteran Diego Brandao in five minutes.
“Mystic Mac” opened with a spinning kick before fighting with the Brazilian in the form of a huge “Ole!” a football chant echoed through the arena.
McGregor showed off some of his oft-criticized wrestling skills, which recently earned him a BJJ black belt, as he landed takedowns from top position.
Brandao got back to his feet but already looked beleaguered and the future double-weight champion could feel it as he went in search of a quick finish.
McGregor threw a series of punches, elbows and kicks as he chased his third UFC opponent around the Octagon before landing a spectacular shot.
The 35-year-old cracked Brandao with a spinning back kick that sent him to his knees and marked the beginning of the end of the UFC Dublin main event.
Despite trying to fight fire with fire, Brandao found himself pinned against the fence before chewing out a big left shot that ultimately floored him.
A few follow-up strikes were all referee Leon Roberts needed to end the fight and spark wild celebrations from the Irish crowd.
Nine years later, the atmosphere at UFC Dublin is still unrivaled.
However, Dana White has never brought his MMA league back to Ireland, even though McGregor is its biggest star and often speaks of his desire to fight at Dublin’s 80,000-seat Croke Park stadium.
The UFC CEO recently promised a return to McGregor’s homeland in 2024 following the emergence of undefeated Irish welterweight contender Ian Garry.
A recent leak from lightweight veteran Jamie Mullarkey’s camp has suggested a UFC Dublin card could arrive a little sooner than expected.
On Sunday, HD Global Athlete Management announced that Mullarkey had signed a new deal with the company and suggested he would fight in Ireland in December.
The UFC has yet to comment on speculation about an imminent return to Dublin, but it is known that they are keen to offer Garry another fight before the end of 2023.
McGregor’s most recent training partner wanted to fight Stephen Thompson at UFC 295 on November 11, but ‘Wonderboy’ isn’t interested and may have inadvertently paved the way for an even bigger opportunity for Garry.
Only time will tell when the UFC returns to Dublin, but whenever they do, Irish MMA fans will almost certainly help put on another historic night.