A year in which Conor McGregor made UFC history by becoming the first man to hold UFC world titles in two different weight classes simultaneously has ended on yet another high note for the “Notorious” one, as he was today named as RTÉ Sportsperson of the year for 2016. McGregor missed out on the award in 2015 to boxer Michael Conlan and becomes the first representative from MMA to win the prestigious award – a definite significant moment for the sport in Ireland.
After winning the UFC featherweight championship in December 2015, McGregor immediately set his sights on his second UFC title, the lightweight strap. He was scheduled to get that chance in March, but a broken foot forced Rafael dos Anjos to withdraw and McGregor instead took a short notice replacement fight at welterweight against Nate Diaz. That decision would prove to derail McGregor’s plans briefly, as Diaz emerged with a submission win, handing McGregor his first UFC loss. Determined to exorcise the demons of that loss, McGregor pursued the rematch with Diaz like a man possessed and the UFC hierarchy eventually relented, installing the men’s second meeting as UFC 202 main event.
What followed was a Fight of the Night, and Fight of the Year contender, as McGregor would prevail after a 5-round war with Diaz, taking a majority decision back to Ireland. That win, his first at 170 pounds, gave McGregor the ammunition to hunt his white whale – a shot at a second UFC title and the chance to hold both like he did in Cage Warriors. By that time, Eddie Alvarez had dethroned dos Anjos, and the “Underground King” was only too willing to take on the challenge of the Irishman. The date and location was set – November 12, UFC 205 in the UFC’s maiden show in Madison Square Garden.
This was McGregor’s chance to do what he had so boldly predicted he would after winning his UFC debut in 2013 – ascend to the top of both the featherweight and lightweight divisions. Not only would he fulfil that promise, he would do it with arguably the best performance of his career.
McGregor completely dominated the bout, repeatedly knocking Alvarez to the ground with lightning fast striking until, midway through the second round, he put Alvarez down for the final time, giving him the win and his spot in the history books.
McGregor was unable to attend the awards ceremony in person, but sent his thanks via a pre-recorded video, saying
“Thank you so much to the fans for voting me as RTÉ Sports Person of the year for 2016.I’m grateful and extremely blessed to have the support of my home country. Thank you RTÉ as well. I’m sorry I couldn’t be there – you know I love to stick on a good suit, roll into these ceremonies and collect an award so I’m a little upset about that. So thank you RTÉ, thanks to the fans. It’s been a hell of a year and I look forward to 2017”
In an interview with RTÉ’s Clare McNamara, which was also broadcast during the ceremony, McGregor spoke of how big 2016 was for him, calling it the culmination of 28 years of hard work. In true McGregor form, however, he also took aim at a man who has been doing his fair share of talking about the Irishman in recent times – Floyd Mayweather. After being asked about the possibility of the two meeting down the line, McGregor responded by saying:
“I’ve got the boxing licence. His last pay-per-view was 350,000 buys. The fight was a flop, it was a dud. His last two fights have been duds. I certainly don’t need him. I could pick some local schmuk and still do huge numbers. Of course the Floyd fight is the fight the public want to see, but we’ll see. These things take time.”
Conor McGregor talks to Clare McNamara after a year which he call the ‘culmination of his life’s work’. https://t.co/0AY8QPqGyu
— RTÉ Sport (@RTEsport) December 17, 2016
Dana White gives an update on the lightweight title picture
When it comes to the lightweight division there is always a lot of talk with very little clarification. But now it seems Dana White has had enough of waiting for champion Conor McGregor and plans to move on in his absence.
“The Notorious” Conor McGregor won the UFC lightweight title back in November 2016 at UFC 205 where he became the first fighter to hold two belts simultaneously, however, he has not competed in MMA since.
Speaking on Sunday night’s after UFC Fight Night St. Louis UFC President Dana White said “Conor has said he is thinking about coming back in September if he comes back in September that’s almost two years, that can’t happen. It’s not fair to everybody else. Love Conor, respect Conor, love everything he’s done for this company, everybody knows that I say it all the time. The belt would have to move on.”
White also spoke about the two men that would fight for the lightweight belt saying “You do Khabib versus Tony, we’re working on that fight now and if and when Conor comes back he would get the first crack at the title.”
Then when presenter Karyn Bryant pushed for clarification and asked: “So you’re saying that Conor could possibly be stripped of his title?” Dana responded without hesitation “absolutely”.
"Conor has said he's thinking about coming back in September. If he comes back in September, that's almost two years…that can't happen." — @danawhite
— FOX Sports: UFC (@UFCONFOX) January 15, 2018
The news will excite UFC fans across the globe who have been clamoring for the Ferguson vs Khabib matchup which they have been denied on three separate occasions. No date was confirmed for the potential matchup but rumors have been circulating that the UFC is targeting UFC 223 in April.
Conor McGregor reacts to Khabib Nurmagomedov’s win at UFC 219
On Saturday night the world watched as Khabib Nurmagomedov dismantled the striking expert Edson Barboza at UFC 219. The reactions were filled with praise for the undefeated Russian fighter. Media members and fans alike were calling Nurmagomedov one of the best lightweights in the world, but there is one man the world was waiting to hear from, UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor. McGregor was silent following the fight between Nurmagomedov and Barboza, that is until Monday morning when he took to Twitter to state his opinion about the Number one contender.
That Dagestani was dog shit the other night you's are all nuts. Game full of sloppy bums asking to be slept. Pay me my worth and Kings back.
— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) January 1, 2018
Truly truly truly get on your fucking knees and beg me. Otherwise I don't give a bollox.
My whiskey is out this year and thats Diddy bread.
— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) January 1, 2018
“Truly truly truly get on your fucking knees and beg me,” McGregor wrote on Twitter. “Otherwise, I don’t give a bollox. My whiskey is out this year and that’s Diddy bread.” The whiskey that McGregor is referring to is his very own grand that he announced would be coming out following his loss to Floyd Mayweather this past August.
Rumors about McGregor’s return have ranged from him retiring from fighting to live a life of wealth with his family, to expect his return to the UFC this summer. No one really knows if McGregor will ever defend his UFC lightweight belt, but if he is to do so UFC President Dana White has said that it will be against interim champion Tony Ferguson.
Ferguson was also seeking a fight with Nurmagomedov prior to winning the interim belt against Kevin Lee. It is entirely possible that we will see these two battle for the interim title in the octagon before we see the return of Conor McGregor. Of course, these days there are no guarantees in regards to title contention, McGregor and his camp have publically stated that they would like to face Nurmagomedov in his home country of Russia.
Conor McGregor has ‘Every intention of fighting in 2018’
Despite being inactive since his historic boxing bout with Floyd Mayweather Jr. in August, Conor McGregor is never far from the headlines. Recently his out of cage antics have got people questioning if he’ll ever be back.
Thankfully the UFC lightweight champion appears to have cleared up any rumors about his fighting career.
Speaking to his sponsor Betsafe, the “Notorious” Conor McGregor said “My focus is getting back into the right ring or octagon. 2017 was historic. I have transcended both the sport of MMA and boxing. At this stage of my career, as it has been for the majority of my UFC career, potential opponents must lobby for fights with me. We could see Conor McGregor anywhere. I run the fight game, the fashion game, the whiskey game or whatever the next business endeavor might be”.
McGregor added, “I have every intention of fighting in 2018 if my compensation and business development endeavors accurately reflect my influence on combat sports.”
This comes just two weeks after UFC President Dana White told reporters “Conor might never fight again. The guy’s got $100 (expletive) million. I’ve got guys that made less than that and were lawyers and went to school their whole life and quit working.”
White went on to say “Try to get up and get punched in the face every day when you’ve got $100 million in the bank. Money changes everything with a lot of people.”
White also told reporters that the “Notorious one”, “can’t be paid enough money” and that he is “worth every penny and more.” McGregor’s recent statement suggests he knows that and won’t be back till his demands are met.
The UFC lightweight division has been stalled in the absence of the champion McGregor and now the interim champion Tony Ferguson has undergone surgery. The UFC has been known the remove belts from fighters who have been delayed for extended amounts of time, this would be highly unlikely with the popularity of McGregor.
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