Dublin's Conor McGregor remains unbeaten in the UFC after a dominant featherweight win over Hawaii's Max Holloway in Boston.
The Irishman won by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26), despite a knee injury he sustained in the second round that forced him to rethink his strategy.
Until then, McGregor, who received a rapturous welcome from the Boston crowd having fought just once in the UFC before tonight, had been in total control of the fight.
“I’m at a loss for words,” McGregor said of the support he received from the crowd at TD Garden. “I wanted to stand up all the way, he caught my leg in an awkward position, my leg was wobbly when I got up. You live and you learn.”
McGregor dismissed suggestions afterwards that he was under pressure to live up to his billing.
“I just listen to my team, I listen to my trainer, listen to the people in my circle,” he told mmafighting.com “Everyone else, they don’t exist.”
Holloway appeared unable to deal with the variety and unpredictability of McGregor’s attack in the opening round; the Irishman landed 60 blows with feet and fists by the halfway point, with the southpaw’s straight left doing a lot of damage.
“I really wanted to finish, I can’t stress that enough, I want to put people away.”
More of the same was the message from McGregor’s corner but, in a second round skirmish, Holloway’s hold on his left leg popped his knee as he pulled away.
“I had to readjust, I tried to play around with it, I threw a little sidekick, I threw some shots, but it was wobbly.”
The Crumlin man opted to take the fight to the ground.
The second half of the contest saw McGregor take Holloway down on a number of occasions and, though he struggled to get enough purchase to pound his opponent and end the fight, he maintained the upper hand throughout, which will come as a relief given his two defeats in his 16-fight career have come by submission,
Holloway offered little in return and succeeded only in avoiding what at one stage had seemed inevitable; a 13th McGregor knockout.
The win was 25-year-old's 10th in a row, but only his second in the UFC, after his explosive 67-second stoppage of Marcus Brimmage on his debut in April.
Depending on his knee, the Dubliner will seek a fight in Manchester in October or, better still, Las Vegas in December, as his next challenge.
“I feel like a champion, honestly, put me in with anyone, anyone in the world, I’m dangerous for them all. I’m just looking for my time to prove it. And it will come.”