Conor McGregor aspires to be UFC champion in two divisions at the same time
Success and popularity have empowered Conor McGregor. Now he learns how much.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship’s new featherweight champion, strengthened by his title-fight-record 13-second knockout Saturday of previously dominant Jose Aldo, spoke of becoming the first fighter to simultaneously hold two belts, of returning to fight at an Ireland soccer stadium, and taking over the sport.
“The sky’s the limit,” McGregor said.
By luring 16,156 spectators to the MGM Grand, many of whom waved Irish flags and roared for him, McGregor’s anticipated showdown with Aldo made the UFC a record $10.1 million in live gate.
“What’d Floyd and Manny do?” McGregor said of the Mayweather-Pacquiao boxing match in May at MGM that generated $72 million in gate sales.
“We do $10.1 million, I’m 27. I’m only warming up. Those [guys] are 40. I’m bringing these high-revenue numbers and I stand here as the champion, back-to-back gate records at the MGM, [with] this trending as the highest pay-per-view, with weight divisions left for me to go at, super-fights left and right.
“Tell me what other champion is like that?”
McGregor (19-2) and a UFC official laid out the opportunities before him.
He can defend his belt against former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar or move up in weight to fight the winner of Saturday’s lightweight title match between champion Rafael Dos Anjos and Donald Cerrone.
Although the UFC official said McGregor would vacate the featherweight belt if he opted to fight the Dos Anjos-Cerrone winner, the Irishman planted his flag in the ground, so to speak.
“If I go to lightweight, there’s no way I’m vacating that belt,” McGregor said. “There will be one belt on this shoulder and one belt on the other. I stay busy. I will be a dual weight champion and the belts will still be active, because I’m as active as anyone.”
McGregor called out Aldo for more than a year, waited through the Brazilian’s training-camp rib injury over the summer and met the charging champion near the center of the octagon Saturday night.
Aldo threw a right, McGregor slipped it and belted Aldo flush to the jaw with a left hand. Aldo crashed backward to the canvas, McGregor pounced and smacked him two more times in the face before referee John McCarthy waved things off.
“If you can see it and you have the courage to speak it, it will happen,” McGregor said. “If you become vocal with it, you create the law of attraction. ... I said one round.”
The technical knockout left Aldo (25-2), who hadn’t lost in 10 years and reigned as the UFC’s No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter, to lament, “I deserve a rematch. It really wasn’t much of a fight.”
Maybe there’ll be time for Aldo later, McGregor said, but for now he’s moving on.
Edgar worked to make a case for an April 23 Madison Square Garden date but conceded he’d go to Croke Park in Ireland, too.
“I think people hear his mouth and the way he talks about people and they’re slow to give him the credit he deserves, but he shows it in the cage every time,” Edgar said.
“I’m his Kryptonite. I’m in the gym a lot. You give me a good camp, ample time to prepare for him and I’m the guy to beat McGregor.”
Said McGregor: “If they offer me the football stadium, damn right I can take it. I’m going to sit back in the shadows for Christmas and plot into the new year.”
McGregor said the weight cut to 145 was rigorous, so a move to 155 for the lightweight belt would also provide some comfort.
“I’ll keep my ear to the ground to see what the fans want and see what numbers they’re talking,” McGregor said. “The [lightweight] division needs me. I don’t need the division. I’ll play it by ear … see who comes out victorious.”
McGregor relished where he is, asking where the voices who called him a clown and joker are now and proud of how he paid back his countrymen’s support.
“I’m extremely proud of the nation. We are good people. We just want to have a good time,” McGregor said. “The Strip will be green, white and orange, my friend.”
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