UFC 246: Holm & McGregor Can’t Relive Vegas Nightmare
By James Lee
The last time Holly Holm and Conor McGregor shared the octagon on the same night, the pair left the T-Mobile Arena in despair.
While Holm vehemently went unconscious in an attempt to salvage her bantamweight title, McGregor traumatically faltered at the hands of Nate Diaz.
Oddly, UFC 246 has some eerie similarities to that event back in 2016.
Mainly, memories of Las Vegas nights will haunt them both. This Saturday’s card is particularly key for both to change their current state of affairs.
The former bantamweight champion is in an especially problematic scenario.
Specifically, the T-Mobile Arena poses memories of several title failures. Miesha Tate began the nightmare, but subsequent losses to Cris Cyborg and Amanda Nunes has heightened the ordeal.
The days of her causing the biggest shock in the sport’s history are now a distant memory and as are what appeared to be her inception of stardom. Two wins in seven is wildly distant from where she needs to be. But more importantly, where she wants to be.
The scene of last July’s devastating knockout loss was nothing short of painful. Saddening, in fact. The Albuquerque-born fighter has always worn her emotions vividly. It took just over four minutes before her Brazilian counterpart filled her face with pain-staking emotion. One that can only be formed in the backlash of failed optimism.
This weekend, her stake as a top UFC fighter is in question. What she identified herself as and was identified as for years is in question. There is no greater emphasis than that for inspiration.
Her fight with Raquel Pennington will be a rematch of a 2015 fight. She earned the nod in close circumstances back then and the pair were supposed to rematch last year at UFC 243, but Holm was forced to pull out due to a hamstring injury.
Whether Holm can deal with Pennington’s forward pressure style for a second time is the question that requires an answer.
In McGregor’s case, his happiest moments have been in Vegas, but as have his worst. His past two fights in fact has seen Floyd Mayweather and Khabib Nurmagomedov cast a shadow of doubt over his career.
As most remember his 13-second finish of Jose Aldo, many also remember his Russian rival stripping away his self-proclaimed stake at the sport’s top.
Holm and McGregor have little connection on the face of it, but a monumental one spiritually. A sense of unsurety follows the event and them specifically, but collective Sin City redemption is a necessity on January 18th.
Both remember the feeling they felt on March 6th, 2016. As they sat side by side in the post-fight press conference with little to do but watch those at the side of them bask in glory; they cannot afford a repeat.
Too much is at stake for a repeat. For both. The sense of disillusion that will follow will be far worse than it was four years ago.