Tuesday 17 January 2017

'Bring me on board for real' - Two-weight title holder Conor McGregor issues ultimatum to UFC

JOE CALLAGHAN reports from Madison Square Garden

Published 13/11/2016 | 10:11

Conor McGregor, left, taunts Eddie Alvarez during a lightweight title mixed martial arts bout at UFC 205, early Sunday, Nov. 13, 2016, at Madison Square Garden in New York. McGregor won the bout. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Conor McGregor, left, taunts Eddie Alvarez during a lightweight title mixed martial arts bout at UFC 205, early Sunday, Nov. 13, 2016, at Madison Square Garden in New York. McGregor won the bout. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

TURNS out there is something that Conor McGregor finds daunting.

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After making a mockery of what was supposed to be a historic challenge facing him in the main event of UFC 205 in New York in the early hours of Sunday morning, McGregor suddenly sounded a little concerned in the post-fight press conference.

After his most emphatic night yet, the Dubliner revealed the celebrations will continue well into 2017 as he and girlfriend Dee Devlin welcome their first child. It's likely to spark a sabbatical from the sport for its brightest star.

"I'm going to be a daddy early next year," McGregor said as he positioned the lightweight title he had stripped from Eddie Alvarez alongside his featherweight gold at the post-fight platform. "I'm crapping my jocks. I'm not going to lie. I don't even know what way to take it. I don't want to be bringing a child into anything like this. I don't want any celebrity-type s***, I hate all that. I don't want my family to be like that.

"So that's a thing in the back of my head so I'm just going to have this baby, take a little bit of time and see what way I feel after that."

The UFC changed hands in the summer for a princely sum of $4 billion. After adding a whole pile more zeroes to their bank balances on another record-breaking night, the crown prince of the organisation is seeking a review of his position in the enterprise.

"They've got to come talk to me now because no one has come talk to me since the sale has happened," he said of the new owners. "I mean who owns the company now? People have shares in the company now, celebrities. Conan O'Brien owns the UFC now so where's my share? Where's my equity?

"I'm the one who's bringing this. They've got to come talk to me now. That's all I know. I have both belts, a chunk of money, I've got a little family on the way. You want me to stick around, to keep doing what I'm doing, let's talk. But I want ownership now."

UFC chief Dana White had earlier purred about McGregor's contribution to the organisation's night of nights in the Big Apple after 20 years of lobbying to have the sport legalised here. But mere words aren't going to cut it for the two-weight champion anymore.

"I've been happy to just continue doing what I'm doing but I feel I've out-worn the previous contract. I know I'm the highest-paid already but I'm looking at what they're taking in," said McGregor. "That list that was compiled to show the new owners, that's like the gospel right there. That's proof of what I bring. You want me to stick around and help service that debt and continue to push the company? Bring me on board for real."

There was precious little signs of the night's work on McGregor's appearance. He could hardly have dreamt a more serene ascension to the top of a second weight division simultaneously.

"It feels great," said McGregor. "It feels familiar. I saw it so clearly, so consistently until it's here in reality. I've been saying this a long time. I'm very confident my abilities and what I'm predicting I'm going to do. I back it up with work ethic, hours upon hours of time, dedication. I never slip."

One moment which perfectly summed up McGregor's utter superiority on the night came early in the second round as Alvarez, having been downed three times in the first round, backed up against the cage and the Dubliner chased him down with his hands behind his back. Turned out it was more than just a statement of his supreme confidence.

"My right hand was banged up from the Diaz fight," he said, referencing the five-round war in August that couldn't have been more of a contrast to this walk in the Garden. "That's why I had the habit of putting my hand behind my back. I was doing it when I was sparring cause sometimes I'd be sparring and I'd jar it or I'd hit it and it would be swelling up in the middle of the rounds and I'd figure out ways to work around it."

Some of the other stars of the maiden New York night were eager to thrust themselves forward as options for McGregor whenever he does choose to fight next. Welterweight champion Tyron Woodley, who retained his title in a riveting curtain-raiser with Stephen Wonderboy Thompson was among them. McGregor's thoughts on the news that Woodley would like a chance to welcome him back up to the 170lb division?

"I'm sure he would. I'm sure he f***ing would. They all would," smiled MCGregor, who had also been called out by pressing lightweight contender Khabib Nurmagomedov, another impressive winner on the night. "I've got a million other hurdles before I even consider any of this. Whoever runs this whole shit now is gonna have to come to me and give me the real slice cause that's what I've earned. I've earned this.

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