Thirty-two months after taking the UFC by storm, Conor McGregor is the undisputed featherweight champion of the world.
Needing just 13 seconds to knock out longtime champion Jose Aldo with a left to the chin, McGregor earned a Performance of the Night bonus at UFC 194, unifying the belts in the process.
Having previously won the interim title at UFC 189, McGregor improves to 7-0 inside the Octagon, and becomes the promotion's second-ever featherweight champion, handing Aldo his first loss since 2005.
The knockout settles a near yearlong feud between McGregor and Aldo, as the contest drew 16,516 fans to the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
"Nobody can take that left hand shot ... precision beats power and timing beats speed," offered McGregor. "What I say happens, happens ... I showed up tonight and put a stamp on the real belt, there is no doubt now."
Fighting for the middleweight title, incumbent champion Chris Weidman relinquished his title to new strapholder Luke Rockhold, ending his 889-day reign atop the division.
Starting strong and taking Rockhold's back from a standing position, Weidman wilted toward the end of the first round, after Rockhold attempted a guillotine choke submission.
With referee Herb Dean standing the pair back up, Rockhold connected on heavy kicks to the body to close out the round, before taking the second frame with accurate striking and pressure.
In the third round Weidman battled back, converting on a takedown and landing kicks to the body. But an ill-conceived spinning kick by Weidman resulted in a takedown for Rockhold, who transitioned to mount and bludgeoned the New Yorker with punches and elbows.
The fight was very nearly stopped as Rockhold landed with no response from Weidman. Referee Dean let the action continue before Weidman was saved by the bell.
Already badly beaten, Weidman was again taken down by Rockhold in the fourth; once on top, Rockhold punched his way to victory, as Dean stopped the bout at 3:12. The contest was named the event's Fight of the Night.
"It's hard to take this all in. I went through hell to get here, but it's all worth it now. I thought the fight was going to be stopped in the third round, I actually wasn't sure if it was stopped or if the round ended," said Rockhold. "Chris being the champ he is came back hard in the fourth round, but I got the job done."
In the evening's featured bout, middleweights Yoel Romero and Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza fought to a split decision, with Romero edging out a very close contest.
Dropping Souza in the first round with a rarely seen spinning back fist, Romero nearly finished the fight in the first round. But Souza recovered to see the second, when Romero egregiously grabbed the fence to avoid a takedown.
A pivotal moment in the fight, Romero went on to win the second before Souza took the third.
Romero improves to 7-0 in the UFC and is now in position to challenge for the 185-pound title.
"I didn't mean to grab the fence, it was instinct. I started to fall and I grabbed on, it wasn't intentional," commented Romero.
In a matchup of the welterweight division's premiere grapplers, Brazilian Demian Maia thoroughly dominated and dismantled Iceland's Gunnar Nelson en route to a unanimous decision win.
Using punches to set up takedowns, Maia clinched with Nelson early and often, bringing the former Pan American Jiu Jitsu champion to the ground, where he controlled the back position with body locks.
Nelson was crafty and escaped several close submission attempts, but Maia's experience was too much.
Maia has now won four-straight bouts.
"I'm very happy with my performance. There were a couple of small mistakes but overall I think the scores from the judges showed how dominant I was," stated Maia. "My Jiu Jitsu is very good and anytime I'm able to show what my coaches and my team are capable of doing I really enjoy it."
Kicking off the main card, featherweight Max Holloway recorded his eighth straight win with a unanimous decision win over Jeremy Stephens.
Former training partners, Holloway and Stephens spent the better part of the first round feeling each other out. It was more of the same in the second, although Holloway demonstrated perfect takedown defense, evading Stephens' attempts while landing shots from the outside.
In the third, Holloway landed a takedown and some elbows from the top position, asserting dominance. And while Stephens was able to return to his feet and land a few shots in the closing minute, it was far too little, too late.
"I feel good, I got the win, but it wasn't pretty," stated Holloway. "I think the fight started slow because Jeremy and I have so much respect for one another. On the bright side, I got to show a little more of my game, show my wrestling a little bit."
Former WEC champion and UFC veteran Urijah Faber snagged his first win in a year with a tough and gritty performance over bantamweight Frankie Saenz.
Dominating the first round with his jab, pressure, and wrestling against the cage, Faber landed a hard high kick in the second frame, wobbling Saenz. Faber followed up with elbows and an onslaught of punches, nearly finishing the fight, but Saenz was able to recover and even floored Faber toward the end of the round with a low kick.
Using a combination of wrestling and experience, Faber closed out the fight with a takedown en route to the unanimous decision win.
"I'm very fatigued but I was able to get the win," stated Faber. "I could hear him verbally hurt from a body shot I landed so I tried to pour on the punishment to the body. Then he caught me with a hard shot to the body and it took me a moment to recover. Just a great back and forth fight against a guy that had seven straight victories."
Strawweight Tecia Torres improved to 7-0, earning her third UFC win with a dominant unanimous decision victory over late replacement Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger.
Known for her Karate background, Torres floated in and out of the pocket, lighting Jones-Lybarger up with punch combinations.
Nearly stopping the fight in the second round, Torres displayed a vastly improved clinch game, pressuring Jones-Lybarger against the fence.
"The only difference was height with Jocelyn. I didn't notice just how significant it was until we were in the clinch and I was on the tips of my toes trying to defend," offered Torres. "As the rounds went on, I felt better and better."
In a battle of unbeaten fighters, welterweight Warlley Alves made quick work of wrestler Colby Covington, forcing the American to tap out to a first-round guillotine choke.
Landing a heavy kick to the body early, Alves pressured, but Covington responded with a swift takedown and followed up with some ground and pound.
Alves, however, quickly returned to his feet and withstood Covington's subsequent takedown attempt, grabbing Covington's neck and sinking the choke. In a last-ditch effort to loosen Alves' grip, Covington slammed himself to the ground, but the choke was too deep and too tight.
The tapout came at 1:26.
"This was my first fight in Las Vegas which I knew could be difficult. I was able to acclimate very quickly and my weight cut went perfectly," commented Alves.
Brazilian Leonardo Santos, a seven-time world Jiu Jitsu champion, pulled off the biggest betting upset of the evening, finishing lightweight Kevin Lee with strikes in the first round.
With Lee controlling the center of the Octagon, Santos countered and used his jab to keep the distance, never allowing Lee to implement his boxing and wrestling game. Back to the fence, Santos landed a perfectly time right cross to Lee's jaw, sending the American to the canvas.
Santos followed up with a barrage of punches to the floored Lee. Referee John McCarthy waived off the fight at 3:26.
"As I was walking to the Octagon I felt so comfortable that I knew I was going to get the finish," offered Santos. "Early on I was able to find my distance and place a perfect punch."
Topping off the UFC Fight Pass portion of the card, Russia's Magomed Mustafaev made quick work of Boston's Joe Proctor, landing several kicks to the body before dropping Proctor with a pair of knees.
With Proctor turtled up on the ground, Mustafaev poured on the ground strikes, pummeling with punches until referee Mark Smith stopped the fight.
"I have finished all of my wins to date, I don't let my fights go to the judges and I try to finish my fights as soon as possible. Tonight was no different," stated Mustafaev.
Hawaii's Yancy Medeiros captured his third UFC win, and thirteenth overall, defeating Canadian John Makdessi.
Throwing punches in volume, the taller and longer Medeiros controlled the first round, keeping distance from Makdessi's kicking assault. But Makdessi figured out Medeiros' timing in the second and third, landing spinning back kicks and punches to pull ahead.
Late in the third round, however, Medeiros dropped Makdessi with a right hook to seal the win.
"The plan going in was to use my range and force Makdessi to over commit," commented Medeiros. "I watched footage and he has a tendency to open up when he throws the overhand so I was waiting for my moment. I was patient and a lot of my counters landed clean but he's a very tough martial artist."
Leading off the show, former The Ultimate Fighter winner Court McGee celebrated his 31st birthday with a unanimous decision win over Brazilian Marcio Alexandre.
Starting slow in the first round, McGee controlled the action for the majority of the final two frames, taking the center of the Octagon and constantly pressuring. Converting on takedowns in both the second and third stanza, McGee landed heavy elbows and ground and pound from the top position to seal the win.
With the victory, McGee improves to 17-4, while Alexandre drops to 13-3.
"I had a 14 week training camp," said McGee. "I didn't skip a beat in the Octagon tonight. Determination, dedication and never giving up made all the difference for me."
UFC 194 Results
Conor McGregor def. Jose Aldo Rd. KO (punches) Rd. 1, 0:13
Luke Rockhold def. Chris Weidman via TKO (punches) Rd. 4, 3:12
Yoel Romero def. Jacare Souza via Split Decision (29-27, 28-29, 29-28)
Demian Maia def. Gunnar Nelson via Unanimous Decision (30-26, 30-25, 30-25)
Max Holloway def. Jeremy Stephens via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Urijah Faber def. Frankie Saenz via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Tecia Torres def. Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Warlley Alves def. Colby Covington via Tapout (guillotine choke), Rd. 1, 1:26
Leonardo Santos def. Kevin Lee via TKO (punches), Rd. 1, 3:26
Magomed Mustafaev def. Joe Proctor via TKO (knees and punches), Rd. 1, 1:54
Yancy Medeiros def. John Makdessi via Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Court McGee def. Marcio Alexandre via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)