Thursday 29 September 2016

Conor McGregor and Rafael Dos Anjos will come face-to-face for the first time tonight

Tom Rooney

Published 20/01/2016 | 12:41

Dos Anjos and Conor McGregor
Dos Anjos and Conor McGregor

Conor McGregor has said time and again that future opponents crumble as soon as he looks them in the eye, we’ll find out tonight whether or not Rafael Dos Anjos follows suit.

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With a little over seven weeks to go before McGregor challenges Dos Anjos for the lightweight title at UFC 197 in Las Vegas, the pair will finally get the chance to square off at a promotional event to be held in the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

As is the norm for major UFC showcases, the promotion is holding the first of many press events to generate as much hype as possible in the lead up to the historic occasion on March 5.

It’s historic because if McGregor dethrones Dos Anjos, who will be making his second title defence, then the featherweight champion will the first man ever to concurrently hold two belts.

Traditionally, it’s in these situations that the SBG man slowly but surely begins to unravel foes with his patented, and often belligerent, gamesmanship. Yet, his barbs have consistently induced  ill-advised emotional responses from opponents, notably Dustin Poirier and Jose Aldo.

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Dos Anjos is generally indifferent to such tactics, though he’s never been subjected to the McGregor treatment. If the bait is taken, one can’t help feel that Brazilian’s fate might be sealed then and there. If not, then the Dubliner will have to overcome the most physically imposing challenge he’s ever faced with his fighting skills alone, considerable as they are.

At September's Go Big press conference, McGregor’s now infamous rant about breaking out the red panties was actually directed at Dos Anjos, so who knows what will be said this evening?

A week after McGregor put away Aldo, Dos Anjos did likewise to Donald Cerrone, even if it took him a comparatively eternal 66 seconds.

Also on the dais will be the women’s bantamweight champion Holly Holm and challenger Miesha Tate, who are set to meet in the co-main event.

Of course, Holm shocked the world with her stunning second round KO of the seemingly invincible Ronda Rousey in Melbourne last November, and will be favoured to defeat Tate, a two time loser when coming up against Rousey.

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