McGregor on John Kavanagh's instructions just before he finished Cerrone
"I'm very grateful to the people who stuck by me through this trying time. This one's for them."
As most of the T-Mobile Arena lost their minds, and Conor McGregor got excited, John Kavanagh kept his cool.
Saturday night in Las Vegas was the first time in 34 UFC fights that Donald Cerrone failed to land a strike. In 40 whirlwind seconds, McGregor landed 19 significant strikes from the 26 he threw. The last handful were needed to get referee Herb Dean to swoop in and stop the main event of UFC 246.
Cerrone, a notoriously slow starter, avoided McGregor's first strike - a straight left down the centre - but he copped three shuddering shoulder blows to the face. One of the shoulder strikes broke Cerrone's nose and the second connected flush with his eye.
As Cerrone reeled, McGregor then landed a head kick and a flying knee that further stunned him. Following his TKO win, McGregor commented:
"I knew he wasn't expecting that, a little level change. Bang, I walked him into it. It's a nice shot. He wasn't expecting that, and when we separated I saw the blood in his eye. Then clattered it (my foot) into the cheek."
That was the beginning of the end but McGregor still needed to retain his composure to get the job done. In a fascinating post-fight interview with ESPN's Ariel Helwani, 'The Notorious' spoke about the advice his coach John Kavanagh hollered at him, amid the din.
McGregor looked like he would land the KO blow as Cerrone fell back against the fence, but 'Cowboy' was able to briefly withstand the flurry. While Cerrone was never out of danger, it required McGregor to take a moment before finishing him off. McGregor told Helwani:
"I had to re-centre myself a little as I dived on him a little bit. I should've picked the shots a little bit, but that would probably be my lack of time in the cage. I've been out so long that when you get that little rush of excitement, you jump on it.
"Then I could hear John in the corner - 'Settle. Pick your shots' - then I controlled the head, picked the shots and got the stoppage. I'm happy."
McGregor stressed that he wants to fight again in the UFC before the summer and he had some more glowing words to say about his mother, Margaret. "I love my mother," he proclaimed. "She's the strongest woman in the world"