The Conor McGregor phenomenon is bringing all kinds of randomers to the sport of mixed martial arts. People like me, for instance, someone with a fascination with combat sports but also someone who is also often repulsed by them.
Bleary-eyed at the wee hours of this morning, I was blind to much of the technical nuance of what was unfolding in the MGM Grand. Like everyone, there was the 'what the fuck, how is this over?' shock when Aldo went down and did not get up and McGregor began to celebrate. What struck me most about McGregor's knockout of Aldo was that it was so different from the previous fight, the other main event, when Luke Rockhold beat Chris Weidman to a bloody pulp to win the middleweight belt.
The momentum of the fight swung when Weidman missed a kick and Rockhold locked himself on top of him. Rockhold eventually unleashed a torrent of punches upon his opponent's head. Punch after punch after punch after punch. It seemed to even bore Rockhold at times.
There was nothing Weidman could do but cover his eyes and his face. He could not roll away. He was stuck and all he could do was submit, endure the beating until consciousness went out on him, or wait for the referee to intervene.
Weidman is a bloody mess pic.twitter.com/CLmGPpTeXE
— Ryan B+ (@TheChewDefense) December 13, 2015
Ref Herb Dean watched the onslaught like a hawk but seemed satisfied that Weidman was with it. Then the bell rang and the third round ended. Both fighters made for their corners.
I think @HerbDeanMMA is one of the best in an incredibly difficult job. It had to be a tough call. https://t.co/VEv7oENII0
— Joe Rogan (@joerogan) December 13, 2015
It seemed difficult to understand why the fight was allowed to go on, and not surprisingly Weidman found himself in the same position in the 4th round.
Watch BitaNick's Vine, "Luke Rockhold has just TKO'd Chris Weidman!! #UFC194" https://t.co/KGj0yiKLse
— [email protected] MMA/Boxing/News (@dw504966) December 13, 2015
Dean had finally seen enough and called it a TKO for Lockhart. His post-fight interview in the octagon reminded me of Rocky's final speech in the film of the same name: a concussed, bloodied warrior struggling to speak.
And then came the other main event. Unlike the slow, blunt, destructive violence just on show, McGregor KO'ed Aldo with one left punch. Instead of an endless litany of punches, there was one lethal one. It was like a pub fight. Two men threw their best shots. Both connected. Only McGregor connected better.
To an outsider, it seems like there were two kinds of violence on display last night - one blitzkrieg quick, shocking in its speed, the other a pounding, menacing bludgeon to the skull. They hurt in different ways.