The rise and rise of Conor McGregor, UFC’s biggest star, has seen him become the king here in the Big Apple, with the major slice of publicity in this historic event poised for Madison Square Garden on Saturday night. The man in the white mink coat has carried the air of one who already holds the UFC lightweight crown, to sit alongside the featherweight title he won in 13 seconds against Jose Aldo a year ago.
And yet McGregor, in this turbulent week in US politics, has yet to pull his trump card on the incumbent champion at 155lbs, Eddie Alvarez. McGregor believes the contest with the Philadelphian will allow him to expose technical deficiencies, though questioning the will of the American would be beyond the pale. Indeed, the feeling is that McGregor may have to get the job done and the safe locked before the end of the third round in this contest. From this, seat, anyway, that’s how I see it.
McGregor managed to upstage Alvarez at Thursday’s news conference, the champion seemingly flummoxed by the Irishman’s antics: turning up late; stealing his belt, and at one pointy even picking up a chair in WWE-style gesture. It was part-panto, part real time energy, but once it all settled down the war of words was won by McGregor – and his fans. That said, these histrionics will have little bearing when the pair trade leather and bone in the Octagon for a Madison Square Garden UFC first.
“He’s flustered,” McGregor reckoned after the men faced off with their respective belts. “I just have fun and tell the truth and tell how the contest is going to go and that does a sound job. I’m not trying to specifically say something or get something. I just do whatever happens. I’ll be ready for five rounds, but I think I’ll hit him and he’ll fall.”
McGregor insists he has taken nothing for granted. Five years ago, he was picking up a dole cheque. Now he’s the main man in the global phenomenon that the UFC sports franchise continues to be.