Conor McGregor has made a habit of antagonizing UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo ahead of their July 11 title bout, but the Irish firebrand may have gone a step too far when he snatched Aldo's title belt Tuesday during a news conference in his home country, nearly sparking a brawl.
Screaming "I'm the King of Dublin!" McGregor (17-2) poached the strap from Aldo and held it high above his head, while the longtime champ was held back by UFC President Dana White.
"I'm the King of Dublin," Aldo (25-1) said through a translator. "When I got here it was raining, but I brought the sun with me."
The comment, which was met by a chorus of boos from the Dublin crowd, sent McGregor into a fury.
"You're looking at the King of Dublin!" he roared back before snatching the title belt off the table.
Aldo rushed the Irishman, shouting in Portuguese, as a staff member took the belt out of McGregor's hands. White separated the champion and his challenger, but the two kept jawing from opposite sides of the podium.
FOR THE RECORD: An earlier version of this story stated Aldo was shouting in Spanish. He was shouting in Portuguese.
McGregor and Aldo will face off at UFC 189 in Las Vegas. Aldo, listed No. 2 in UFC's official pound-for-pound fighter rankings, has held the featherweight title since 2011. He turned back his last challenger, Chad Mendes, by unanimous decision in Brazil last year.
McGregor, the third-ranked featherweight in the world, has won his last 12 professional fights and hasn't lost since signing with UFC in 2013. He jump-started the hype for the July fight with Aldo when he jumped out of the octagon and began screaming at Aldo after beating Dennis Siver in January.
The circus feel of the news conference continued after the near dust-up, as several fans were allowed to ask questions and routinely took verbal jabs at Aldo.
McGregor, who later promised to finish Aldo in the first round, piled on.
"He’s petrified," McGregor crowed at Aldo. "He doesn’t want none.”
Follow @JamesQueallyLAT for breaking news