Commentary

Let's reserve judgment on McGregor

Originally Published: July 21, 2014
By Brett Okamoto | ESPN.com

A few quick thoughts on this growing legend that is Conor McGregor.

I don't want to dwell on this, but I'll briefly bring up the fact that this fight, this event, was broadcast in the U.S. on UFC Fight Pass.

We won't know exactly how many tuned in, as the UFC does not release subscription numbers for Fight Pass. It's not in the millions, though, like a UFC on Fox event. And it's not sniffing 700,000, the reported viewership of a Fox Sports 1 card late last month.

[+] EnlargeConor McGregor
Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty ImagesDespite impressive performances, it's best to let Conor McGregor, right, grow into a champion rather than rush him toward a title shot.

The conventional thinking is that the UFC would want to maximize viewership for a fighter like McGregor in an atmosphere like the one on Saturday in Dublin.

This is yet another reminder, however, that the UFC's business model has changed. The U.S. audience is not its primary focus 100 percent of the time. The Dublin card was on live television in Ireland and had a local start time. It was for Europe, not the U.S.

That's not to say the UFC wouldn't have benefited from getting more U.S. eyeballs on McGregor on Saturday -- but it's another example of what a different UFC world we're living in today.

The other big takeaway from McGregor this weekend isn't a takeaway at all. It's a question: How good is he, really? It seems there are two schools of thought: He is all hype and hasn't fought anybody and will lose when he does, or he's the next champion at 145 pounds.

In reality, everybody just needs to calm down and slow his or her roll. McGregor is a talented prospect in the featherweight division. That's it. Taking a very hard stance one way or another on this guy is extremely premature.

He's fought in the UFC only three times. He's faced decent, but not outstanding, competition. He's also been extremely dominant in all three fights. He's a very good 145-pound fighter we need to know more about.

Dustin Poirier seems to be the front-runner to fight McGregor next. Cub Swanson was a rumor, since he happened to be in Dublin. Honestly, I wouldn't mind seeing McGregor take it slower and face someone like the winner of Dennis Bermudez versus Clay Guida.

That's just me. And with that, here are the fighter grades from the two UFC Fight Night events last week.

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