Belfast Telegraph

Never mind the Daleks, here's Conor

By Billy Weir

My mother reliably informs me that as a child watching Dr Who I was terrified by the Daleks and hid behind the sofa until they had gone away and been replaced by the Generation Game.

What I needed was some sort of warning, and several years later it arrived, not on BBC but on BT Sport, as in the wee small hours of Sunday morning the following popped up on screen - 'This programme contains flashing images and scenes of violent contact, viewer discretion is advised'.

If I'd had that then I could have enjoyed Tom Baker much more, although I'm not sure what sign would have been needed to have stopped me from crying my bulbs out when Black Beauty galloped off at the end of the show (thank you, mother). I was 27.

But no Daleks, scary men in long scarves or exiting equines were the sources of this sign, there was only one reason - the Notorious.

Conor McGregor was Stateside as UFC came to New York City for the first time and chef Anthony Bourdain was the unusual choice to set the scene for the brutality just around the corner, more scary than a Dalek with a flick-knife.

"This is the city where anything is possible, but nothing is easy," began Bourdain, and he was right as we'd have to wade through several other encounters before we got to the Dubliner's main event of the evening, the World Lightweight title clash with Eddie Alvarez.

We were told this was the greatest line-up ever assembled, two other World titles on the line, starting with the clash between fellow countrywomen Joanna Jedrzejyzk (a women desperately in need of a vowel) and Karolina Kowalkiewicz (if anything, too many vowels), or, as it was tactfully put, 'Poland's nasty civil war enters the world stage'.

Next it was Tyron 'The Chosen One' Woodley, who was described as being 'like a cannonball, always moving forward looking to explode', up against Stephen 'Wonderboy' Thompson, who 'like a blade he cuts down his opponents with sharp, lethal precision'.

I'm no expert, but someone is going to get hurt here.

Even the presenters were in tetchy form, Joe Rogan happy to be in Madison Square Garden but not entirely happy at how they had reached it.

"An important night for us to have finally gotten past all the corruption that kept us out of New York state," he hinted. A fight was definitely brewing.

The biggest shock of the night, though, was a caption saying 'rules of the octagon', which came as a surprise as I didn't think there were any, but there were even more shocks to come once Joanna and Tyron had won their bouts.

Alvarez, the defending champion, promised that his tussle with McGregor would be 'high-paced and it'll be violent' and he was right, as he was violently introduced to the Notorious' left fist on several occasions before a high-paced trip to the floor of the Octagon.

"The illusion of greatness will soon be over, there is no Santa Claus, he don't exist and he never did," Alvarez confidently predicted.

Younger readers do not listen to the nasty man. I admit I had doubts when one November I rummaged in my mother's wardrobe and found Kerplunk and then Santa delivered a very similar one in December, but I was always cynical, even as a 27-year-old.

"Unstoppable, unrelenting, undeniably the biggest star the UFC has ever had," said commentator Mike Goldberg as McGregor swaggered onto his stage where he was about to do battle with Alvarez, or the Underground King, as he likes to be known.

In truth, Great Uncle Bulgaria would have given McGregor more of a fight, although the Wombles are slightly more believable than UFC, whose hype makes boxing look tame in comparison.

"He's hurt him bad, Mike," concluded Rogan as McGregor dealt out some meaty punishment in the first round, but offered more hope in the next, saying "Alvarez is cutting loose, getting better in this round" and then crash, bang and wallop, the Underground King couldn't have been more flattened had Santa, a fully-laden sleigh full of Kerplunks and full accompaniment of reindeer landed on him.

"He didn't come here to take part, he came here to take over," added Goldberg, before Rogan was despatched to the Octagon to talk to the victor, although we didn't get to hear much of it as most of it was swearing.

"I'd like to take this chance to apologise to absolutely nobody," said the now two-weight champion, before another caption came up on the screen.

'We apologise for any offensive language you may have heard' it said, but as Rogan pointed out, "that's one unique human being there".

Indeed he is, unique but scary. Can I come out from behind the sofa yet?

Belfast Telegraph


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