When Conor McGregor faced real adversity in the octagon for the first time, he showed the heart of a champion.

McGregor (22-4 MMA, 10-2 UFC) was scheduled to challenge then-UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo for the title at UFC 189, but after Aldo was forced out due to injury, he faced Chad Mendes for the interim featherweight title instead.

Right out of the gate, McGregor stalked and taunted Mendes, attacking the body with a variety of different kicks.

But Mendes eventually started closing the distance, finding a home for his overhand rights. Just under the three-minute mark, Mendes landed a takedown. He dropped an elbow in top position, causing a gash on McGregor’s forehead.

McGregor made his way back up, continuing to punish Mendes’ body, but Mendes landed another takedown late in the round.

In Round 2, it was visibly clear that Mendes started to slow down, with McGregor stuffing his first takedown attempt. McGregor stuck with his game plan, poking at Mendes’ body, but was eventually taken down again just a minute into the round.

After riding top control for the majority of the round, Mendes attempted a guillotine choke, but McGregor spun out and went straight on the attack. He backed Mendes to the cage, landing multiple combinations followed by a perfect left that sent him to the canvas.

McGregor was crowned interim 145-pound champion, in a come-from-behind win where he had to dig deep. Five months later at UFC 194, McGregor unified the belts by knocking Aldo out in just 13 seconds to claim the undisputed featherweight champion.