Conor McGregor gets chance to show he can win at any UFC weight class

When tonight’s UFC 196 card was announced several months ago, the major narrative was featherweight champion Conor McGregor getting a shot at history with the chance to defeat lightweight champ Rafael dos Anjos and become the first fighter to simultaneously hold two belts.

That plan evaporated when dos Anjos was injured last week and replaced by Nate Diaz.

Somehow, the fight feels even bigger now.

McGregor appears to have reached a point in which he transcends storylines. Just ask him.

“It’s always a superfight when I’m in town,” he said. “This is the numbers and straps life. Take out the strap, it’s still the numbers life. This is always history every damn time. The gate keeps rising, the pay-per-views keep rising.The attendance. Everything keeps rising. It’s always history every time I step in the octagon.”

The bout headlines a pay-per-view card at 7 p.m. at the MGM Grand Garden that includes a women’s bantamweight title bout between Las Vegan Miesha Tate and champion Holly Holm. Four fights from the preliminary card will air live on Fox Sports 1 at 5 p.m., with the first fight scheduled for 3:30.

McGregor said he isn’t bothered about losing out on the opportunity to win a second Ultimate Fighting Championship belt when he meets Diaz.

“I’m seriously considering just making my own damn belt, and then I’ll decide who fights me and at what weight,” he said. “Why not? Who cares about the belts, it’s the money fights. This is the money fight everyone wants, so they should be chasing for it, trying to knock everyone out of the way to get to it, not crying and complaining and sitting around waiting for Uncle Dana to make a phone call.”

McGregor was referencing UFC president Dana White, who was left scrambling to find McGregor an opponent when dos Anjos was injured. McGregor has fought in the UFC at 145 pounds, where he holds the belt, but was going to take on dos Anjos at 155. He will take on Diaz at 170 pounds, where McGregor hinted he may stay after this fight.

Should he win, he said a welterweight title fight against champion Robbie Lawler at UFC 200 in July is a strong possibility.

White said McGregor has reached a status in which he has earned a say in what comes next.

“I’m open to whatever he’s considering doing,” White said. “If he wants to fight at 170, and he wants to fight Robbie Lawler, Conor is tough to deny these days.”

It’s the second major pay-per-view event in less than a year that McGregor has headlined in which his opponent pulled out less than two weeks before the fight. Jose Aldo withdrew from a July bout and was replaced by Chad Mendes.

This time, McGregor moving up two weight classes has added more of a challenge.

“Nobody has ever done this — 145 pounds going to 170,” White said. “And it’s one of those things that when you talk about these guys and the money is in the bank and all the things are going on and they have all this opportunity, Conor really does step up and fight anybody, anywhere, any time. It’s impressive, it’s fun. And this is what makes you love the fight business.”

McGregor believes his willingness to take chances is a major factor in his rise to such unprecedented levels so quickly in the sport.

“There’s a lot of people that play it safe in the game. There’s a lot of scared (expletives) in the fight game. They don’t take risks and people who don’t take risks will never climb to that next level. I take risks all the time and I continue to do so,” he said. “The fans show up here every time. They pay their hard-earned money to travel and then one person pulls out and the opponent just scraps the whole card only thinking of themselves as they sit in their comfortable home while the fans have saved up money and been hyped for an event. Me, I appreciate the fan support, I enjoy showing up and giving them a show and that’s it.”

McGregor truly believes the opponent doesn’t matter, particularly when it comes to the bottom line.

In fact, he can think of only one challenger who could have any positive impact on the financial numbers in one of his fights.

“I’d love to fight myself if I really could,” he said. “Imagine the numbers that would do, if there was two of me.”

While the UFC closely guards financial information, McGregor said he thinks he will carry the company to its first year of revenues exceeding $1 billion at some point in his career.

“The company has been around for (just over) 20 years, and 2015 was its biggest year,” he said. “Who was 2015? That was everything to do with me.

“The numbers continue to rise on all channels, even the Embedded series. All the numbers continue to rise. You’re damn right we’ll hit that billion mark.”

He takes particular joy in pointing out how he makes money for others, too.

McGregor has consistently jabbed at Diaz about getting him the first massive paycheck of his career this week.

He’s also aware of how much money he generates for Las Vegas and, in particular, the MGM Grand, where he is fighting for the third consecutive time.

“I know the people in the MGM are singing all the way to the bank,” he said. “Maybe they’ll take out that lion statue and put in an Irish lion. Or put me up there.”

What McGregor really enjoys is fighting, however. He finally gets to do so once he steps into the cage with Diaz. After a news conference skirmish on Thursday, there was a lot of posing and gesturing with middle fingers during Friday’s weigh-in.

McGregor believes Diaz is in trouble once the fight starts.

“You’re like a gazelle. You’re all hunched up together hoping to be spared. I’m a lion,” McGregor said to Diaz on the dais Thursday. “I’m going to eat you alive in there, and your little gazelle friends are going to be staring through the cage at your carcass getting eaten alive. All they’re going to do is say, ‘We’re never going to cross that river again.’ ”

Contact reporter Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com or 702-224-5509. Follow him on Twitter: @adamhilllvrj.

ad-high_impact_4
Covering The Cage Videos
Covering The Cage Live: UFC 220 and Bellator 192 Recap
Review-Journal reporters Adam Hill and Heidi Fang recap UFC 220 and Bellator 192.
Covering the Cage: Recapping 2017
Heidi Fang and Adam Hill go over their favorite moments of 2017 and pick their favorite fight, knockout and submission of the year.
Covering The Cage: UFC 219 Recap
Covering The Cage hosts Adam Hill and Heidi Fang recap tonights fights at UFC 219.
Covering The Cage: UFC 219 Picks
Covering The Cage hosts Adam Hill and Heidi Fang give their picks for the main card fights at UFC 219.
Covering The Cage: UFC 219 Preview
Covering the Cage hosts Adam Hill and Heidi Fang preview UFC 219 including Cris Cyborg and Holly Holm.
UFC 219 media day staredowns
Ahead of UFC 219's pay-per-view on Dec. 30, the stars of the main card faced off at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Cris "Cyborg" Justino will face Holly Holm in the main event for the women's featherweight belt.
Covering the Cage: UFC fighter Julian Marquez talks debut victory
Review-Journal reporters Adam Hill and Heidi Fang talk with UFC fighter Julian Marquez. They discuss the beard competition between Marquez and Tyron Woodley, and the unexpected passing of longtime MMA coach and trainer Robert Follis.
Covering the Cage: Julian Marquez interview
Adam Hill and Heidi Fang talk about all things going on in the world of MMA and talk to Julian Marquez about his upcoming fight in Winnipeg.
Covering The Cage Live: UFC 218 Recap, TUF 26
Review-Journal reporters Adam Hill and Heidi Fang recap The Ultimate Fighter 26 and UFC 218.
Covering The Cage: TUF 26 Recap, UFC 218 Preview
Review-Journal reporters Adam Hill and Heidi Fang recap The Ultimate Fighter and preview UFC 218.
Covering the Cage: UFC 218, TUF 26 Finale preview
Review-Journal reporters Adam Hill and Heidi Fang make their picks for the "The Ultimate Fighter" Season 26 Finale and UFC 218. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Covering the Cage: Kyra Batara interview
Adam Hill and Heidi Fang talk to Combate Americas Womens Atomweight Kyra Batara about her upcoming fight in San Antonio as well as Conor McGregor's potential incident at a bar and UFC 218.
Covering the Cage Live: Conor McGregor Apologizes
Adam Hill and Heidi Fang discuss Conor McGregor apologizing on Instagram for jumping in the cage, shoving a referee at Bellator 187, recap of Anthony Pettis vs. Dustin Poirier, preview Fabricio Werdum vs. Marcin Tybura as well as Michael Bisping stepping up on less than 30 days notice to fight Kelvin Gastelum in China.
Roxanne Modafferi previews her fight with Emily Whitmire on TUF 26
The Ultimate Fighter 26 features a Las Vegas showdown between Syndicate MMA's Roxanne Modafferi and Xtreme Couture's Emily Whitmire. Modafferi previews the fight with CoveringtheCage.com.
Covering The Cage: UFC 217 Recap
Review-Journal reporters Adam Hill and Heidi Fang recap tonight's UFC 217 main card title fights between T.J. Dillashaw and Cody Garbrandt, Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Rose Namajunas, and the return of Georges St-Pierre.
TOP NEWS
ad-infeed_1x2_1
News Headlines
ad-infeed_1
ads_infeed_2
Local Spotlight
Events
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like