Just five weeks out from the biggest fight this year, Brazilian Jose Aldo defends his Featherweight title against the Irishman Conor McGregor. Ariel Helwani sat down with the challenger to discuss Conor’s ambitions, both inside the cage, and business related, as well as a side to Conor McGregor not many have seen.
The meteoric rise the 26-year old Dubliner has enjoyed, has been unprecedented. Conor has essentially taken the mixed martial arts world by storm with his ability inside the cage, as well as his promotional ability outside of it.
Helwani opens the interview touching on how Conor has essentially made Las Vegas his home, settling down in the “McMansion”, and bringing his whole camp with him to train for his upcoming title challenge July 11th, at MGM’s Grand Garden Arena. Conor speaks on wanting the comfortable atmosphere, and not traveling during his weight cut, having all the focus on him during his preparation.
“This is the way world champions have done, this is the evolution of fight preparation” said McGregor, just as Helwani reminds him former greats of boxing Mike Tyson, and Muhammed Ali would train in places to get acclimated as well.
With McGregor’s approach revolving as much around business, as it does fighting, one thing Conor McGregor understands about himself is his worth. Ariel asks him if he feels like he is underpaid, Conor nods his head in agreement and states, “100% they (the UFC) has struck gold with me” as he elaborates on how he will analyze the numbers and present his case for more money to be made once they are revealed. Conor also reveals that the lead up to this fight will be different from any other, Ariel asked him to elaborate, prompting the Irish star to respond,
“Just sit back and enjoy it, because the McGregor show is different from any other show that has been, but it will be spectacular, make no mistake.”
As the interview takes a turn to a more personal side, Ariel goes on to show his own admiration for Conor’s very public relationship with his girlfriend, Dee Devlin, and how he respects that it is a different and comforting approach that Conor values her so much.
“My girlfriend has been there from the start, she has helped me throughout this career, if it wasn’t for her I probably wouldn’t be where I am at today, so definitely I look to spoil her, she does not work anymore. I essentially hired her”.
It is certainly unique and refreshing to have this inside track to how Conor McGregor the man is, his humble upbringing and how he values the people in his life, his girlfriend being one of them.
The interview then shifted into his views on his upcoming opponent, Jose Aldo. Conor is very honest in his response to how he feels about the process, and his view of Aldo. He feels he has already gotten to the champion mentally as a result of the happenings on their world press tour. One moment which stood out on the press tour was when McGregor grabbed the belt in front of a seated Aldo on stage and held it over head, Conor describes the mentality and buildup of that moment.
“When I walked up I was thinking, I’m just going to grab that belt and put it on my side of the table.” laughed McGregor. He continues, “I said to Dana, you’re lucky that belt wasn’t there, I was going to grab it. Then I sat down and it just happened, he tried to say he was the King of Dublin, I said I’m the King of Dublin, it was all emotion, we were all just rolling with it. For anyone in that room, it was an amazing experience, the same way for anyone in that room in Rio De Janeiro, they were coming me, I was going at them.”
As the interview winds down, Conor again shows that he is grateful for all that he has achieved, yet it should be noted that he achieved this all because of his work ethic, and nothing has been given. The Irish megastar has a chance to become the Featherweight champion July 11th at UFC 189, should he succeed in capturing the belt, the UFC, and the entire sport of mixed martial arts as a whole, will likely be looking at its biggest celebrity.
Who will Conor McGregor fight next in the UFC?
Conor McGregor has announced via Instagram that he intends to return to fighting and he even revealed that he had offered to replace the injured Max Holloway in the main event of UFC 222.
He did say however that the UFC rejected the opportunity to have him headline against Frankie Edgar as he was told “there wasn’t enough time to generate the money that the UFC would need”.
With his return seemingly imminent and an already proposed fight with Frankie Edgar falling through here’s a look at the men who could be standing across the cage from the “Notorious One” upon his return to the octagon.
Let’s start with the man McGregor claims he was ready to fight next month, Frankie Edgar.
It’s a fight that has been rumoured and talked about for years now, but has always failed to become a reality and right now I believe each mans future lies elsewhere.
Although I believe Edgar would choose a fight with McGregor over a title fight with Holloway, his next bout should finally be for the real featherweight title, providing he beats Ortega at UFC 222. McGregor on the other hand, is unlikely to want the Edgar fight now given the much more lucrative options at his disposal.
If you’re a fan still clinging to hope that you will one day see this match up, I hate to break it to you but the only place you’ll be seeing this match up anytime soon is on UFC 3.
The winner of Ferguson vs Khabib
If UFC 223 goes as planned then we will see a new UFC Lightweight champion. It means Conor McGregor will be without a belt for the first time since December 2015 and it would be no surprise to see him want his belt back instantly.
As a competitor the winner of this fight represents the best the division has to offer. As a businessman the winner of this fight represents the best the division has to offer.
It is the fight that makes sense, but as we know, sense doesn’t always prevail in the UFC. But, the winner of this bout being the next to face McGregor, is a real possibility.
Conor McGregor is no longer the man at featherweight, Max Holloway is.
Does that hurt McGregor’s ego? Maybe. There has been a lot more activity on McGregor’s social media channels about his fight with Holloway. Most notably the “I miss those sunglasses” post. Which certainly has a hint of jealousy to it. Perhaps McGrgeor wants to remind fans of what he can do at featherweight?
Although I think McGregor’s days at featherweight are pretty much over, I don’t think it’s beyond the realms of possibility that we see this fight at lightweight. But I don’t believe this fight is next for either man.
Nate Diaz and Conor McGregor have both announced their comebacks in quick succession of each other. Could it mean they’re coming back for a fight this summer? Who knows.
But one things for sure, the trilogy fight will happen. It has the potential to be even bigger than the first two fights and will surely bring in a boat load of cash. Enough to motivate the two rivals to meet in the octagon again.
The fight seems inevitable and it has every chance of being the next fight for McGregor.
Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Mayweather Jr. in the octagon has been teased since before his boxing match with Conor McGregor and the ongoing speculation seems never ending.
But it’s wishful thinking to believe that Mayweather Jr. will repay the favour to McGrgeor by competing in his sport.
This sport has taught us to never say never and many of us would have never envisioned McGregor competing in boxing, but here we are. But this is just a whole new level of unlikely.
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.
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