The Thursday Throwback: UFC 194: Aldo vs. McGregor
By Ross Markey
December 12th 2015, we witness two of the most infamous moments in the history of the naive sport.
Whether you’re a fan of Conor McGregor or not, there’s simply no denying the aura surrounding the Dubliner circa 2015.
After months of torment from ‘The Notorious’ one, reigning featherweight champion, José Aldo would finally lock horns with McGregor in a headlining clash at UFC 194.
The history between the two is rife; Aldo was forced from the originally scheduled pairing at UFC 189 due to a rib injury. McGregor continued to the event and met Chad ‘Money’ Mendes in the main event on just two-week’s notice in an interim meeting.
After some early adversary, McGregor rallied in the second round to score an infamous knockout with a handful of seconds remaining in the round.
The Crumlin counter striker went on to question the validity of Aldo’s injury and called for a unification bout later in the year. The tormentor continued his tirade and during his Octagon walk that Saturday in December, we could clearly see the nerves taking a foothold on the Manaus Muay Thai practitioner.
Aldo usually elects against making eye-contact with his challenger’s during the referee instructions, make of that what you will, but during the moments approaching the opening round, we could see Aldo begin to stiffen up with anticipation of the first exchange.
It was almost within the opening exchange that José Aldo fell. A swift counter left hand from McGregor landed flush on the Brazilian hero’s chin, before two follow up hammer-fists forced referee ‘Big’ John McCarthy to call a halt to the proceedings with just thirteen seconds elapsed.
Overall it was a record setting night for McGregor, as he scored the fastest knockout in a UFC championship bout, and became just the second featherweight champion the promotion had produced, as well as lodging the largest gate in the oranization’s history. The latter would turn out to become an almost ever changing record whenever McGregor stepped foot inside the Octagon.
A clash of middleweights served as our event co-headliner, as the often polarizing Luke Rockhold attempted to pry the world championship from a then undefeated, Chris Weidman.
‘The All-American’ had just successfully defended his crown against Vitor Belfort seven months prior as he began to stack up successful consecutive defences of his throne. Rockhold on the other hand, had won four of his five Octagon walks, submitting Lyoto Machida to earn his first title tilt with the promotion. In a back-and-forth two rounds, Rockhold and Weidman were difficult to separate, until a miss-measured wheel kick from Weidman completely altered the outcome of the contest.
Weidman spun, uncharacteristically, in the third round, with Rockhold forcing a takedown. A barrage of strikes from Rockhold brought around some worrying signs for Matt Serra and Ray Longo in Weidman’s corner, with the Californian forcing the issue in the next round as he secured a victory via ground-and-pound.