Very few fighters have had to deal with the kind of expectations that have been placed on Irish featherweight Conor McGregor so early in his Ultimate Fighting Championship career.
But nobody has put as much pressure on him as McGregor himself.
The 25-year-old improved to 2-0 in the UFC with a one-sided unanimous decision victory over Max Holloway on the UFC on Fox Sports 1 card in Boston on Saturday, but was in no mood to celebrate at the post-fight news conference.
“It feels like a loss to me, to be honest,” McGregor said. “I wanted the finish. I felt the finish was there for me. I injured my knee midway through the second, and I just couldn’t get it out of my head. But looking back, I should have just pulled my knee from my leg and hit him with it.”
That’s the kind of attitude that has so quickly endeared McGregor to fans and, in particular, his boss, UFC president Dana White.
After McGregor’s spectacular 67-second knockout of Marcus Brimage in April, the organization held him out to showcase him in Boston on what the UFC saw as a very important card that helped launch the new network over the weekend.
McGregor, who was fighting on the preliminary card, had his own open media workout before the fight organized by the UFC, and the arena lights were turned off for his dramatic entrance to the cage. That’s the kind of theatrics typically reserved only for main events.
“Dana giving me all this attention and putting this on me, these guys are making my dreams come true. I’m forever grateful to these guys,” McGregor said. “That’s why this is a loss to me.”
It has been a dramatic rise for McGregor, who was on government assistance in Ireland right up until his UFC debut in April. He has made no secret of his pursuit of the high life. McGregor often posts pictures on social media of suits he is considering buying and fitting sessions with tailors.
He was dressed to the nines at the news conference, as well.
“These custom-made suits aren’t cheap,” McGregor said. “This solid gold pocket watch, three people died making this watch. I need to put people away. I want to get paid. I’m going to go into debt fast, you know? I want to finish everyone, that’s my program.”
As down as McGregor was on himself, White wasn’t ready to jump off the bandwagon.
“I love that attitude,” White said after the news conference. “He’s pissed off he didn’t finish. Some guys will sit up here and go, ‘Oh, well, I won.’ Not him. He’s pissed at himself that he didn’t finish. Are you kidding me? Why am I promoting this kid? Why am I getting behind him? Because I love what he’s about.”
■ ALVAREZ RETURNS TO BELLATOR — Former Bellator lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez has decided to drop his legal action against the organization and will return in a rematch against unbeaten champ Michael Chandler on Bellator’s first pay-per-view card Nov. 2.
Alvarez had signed a deal with the UFC, but Bellator had the right to match the offer. Alvarez went to court arguing Bellator’s offer was not truly equal to what the UFC had promised.
Eight months of legal wrangling came to end with a settlement last week. Alvarez appeared to have little choice after a court date on the matter was set for September 2014.
The first fight between Alvarez and Chandler, which Chandler won by fourth-round submission in November 2011, is widely considered the best in Bellator history.
■ BOWLES PUNISHED — UFC bantamweight Brian Bowles was suspended nine months and fined $5,700 by unanimous vote of the Nevada Athletic Commission on Thursday.
The former World Extreme Cagefighting bantamweight champ submitted a urine sample that showed a whopping 20:1 testosterone-to-epitestosterone ratio following a loss at UFC 160 in May.
Bowles continued to proclaim his innocence while appearing before the commission via telephone.
■ KAUFMAN PULLED — Former Strikeforce women’s champion Sarah Kaufman won’t be making her UFC debut on the UFC Fight Night 27 card in Indianapolis next week.
Kaufman’s opponent, Sara McMann, withdrew for undisclosed reasons and no replacement will be named.
The event, featuring a main event welterweight contender bout between Carlos Condit and Las Vegan Martin Kampmann, will air on Fox Sports 1 on Aug. 28.
Contact reporter Adam Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-224-5509. Follow him on Twitter: @adamhilllvrj.