Sunday 4 December 2016

'I'm unified world champion, have back-to-back gate records at the MGM and I'm 27' - Conor McGregor

JOE CALLAGHAN reports from Las Vegas

Published 13/12/2015 | 10:13

Conor McGregor reacts after defeating Jose Aldo during a featherweight championship mixed martial arts bout at UFC 194, Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Conor McGregor reacts after defeating Jose Aldo during a featherweight championship mixed martial arts bout at UFC 194, Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 12: Jose Aldo walks across the Octagon after losing to Conor McGregor in their featherweight title fight during UFC 194 on December 12, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. McGregor took the title with a first-round TKO. (Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images)
UFC featherweight champion Conor McGregor during a post-fight press conference. UFC 194: Jose Aldo v Conor McGregor, MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas, USA. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE
Conor McGregor ahead of his featherweigh bout against Jose Aldo. UFC 194: Jose Aldo v Conor McGregor, MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas, USA. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE
Conor McGregor lands the pivotal punch on Jose Aldo's jaw
Conor McGregor, right, lands a left punch on Jose Aldo, resulting in a knock-out stoppage after 13 seconds of round one. UFC 194: Jose Aldo v Conor McGregor, MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas, USA. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE
December 12, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Conor McGregor before fighting against Jose Aldo during UFC 194 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
December 12, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Conor McGregor is pulled away by the official and wins via technical knockout against Jose Aldo during UFC 194 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
December 12, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Conor McGregor moves in to land punches and win via technical knockout against Jose Aldo during UFC 194 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
December 12, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Jose Aldo before fighting against Conor McGregor during UFC 194 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
December 12, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Conor McGregor before fighting against Jose Aldo during UFC 194 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

"Mystic Mac strikes again," beamed Conor McGregor as he stood at the lectern with the UFC's undisputed featherweight title draped over his shoulder. "The sky is the limit."

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Just as no mortal fighter can seem to live with the Notorious one, nobody is in a place to argue with him. The sky is indeed the limit for McGregor after a night that, even by the standards of this man and this town, was unprecedented.

After downing Jose Aldo in a mere 13 seconds - in the process inflicting the first knockout of the Brazilian's career, his first defeat in a decade and the only UFC loss he has ever know - McGregor was in the mood to talk numbers backstage at the MGM Grand.

The quickest title fight in UFC history had also been its most valuable in Vegas and maybe most valuable ever with pay-per-view figures still to be totted up.

"Tonight was a phenomenal night. A $10.1million gate, a phenomenal number. We've done it again," said McGregor. When next asked what is now possible for him, he took aim at boxing's fight of the century and, almost as quick as the left hook that floored Aldo, he took a swift swipe at its protagonists.

"What did Mayweather-Pacquiao do? $72 million. That's [the aim]," said the Dubliner as Irish fans swarmed through the casinos of Sin City. "I'm catching up [with Mayweather] I'm only 27, those motherf***ers were 40. I'm only warming up.

"I said to [UFC owners] Lorenzo Fertitta and Dana White, I'm breaking these big numbers, I'm breaking these half a billion dollar revenue numbers like the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight. At 27 years of age I stand here as the unified world champion with back-to-back gate records at the MGM Grand. This is trending as the highest PPV I believe of all time for the UFC.

"At 27 years of age with every record in the book, with divisions above ready for me to go at, super fights left and right. I'm going straight up, I'm bringing these big numbers, the sky is the limit. Anything can happen."

That 'anything' could include a rematch with Aldo, a featherweight defence against the in-form Frankie Edgar or an immediate move up to lightweight. And, after this incredible night, you suspect any of those options could take place wherever McGregor wanted. In his homeland perhaps?

"If they offer me Croke Park, or if they offer me the football [Aviva] stadium, you're damn right I'm gonna take it," he said before agreeing that perhaps he could just lay down the law himself.

"Maybe I can [demand it] these days. But i'm gonna sit back in the shadows for christmas and plot. Then I'll come back."

Of the UFC 194 headline fight itself - remarkably not the quickest ever KO of his career [that came in 2011 when he downed Patrick Doherty in four seconds] - it went just as McGregor had foreseen it would.

"I said his right hand would get him into trouble, he would overload on his right hand," he said of the step-in that ended Aldo's historic reign at the top. "I said I'd stop and land the left hook and that's what happened. If you can see it, and have the courage enough to speak it, it will happen, I see these shots, I see the sequences and I don't shy away from them.

"A lot of the time people believe in certain things but they keep it to themselves, they don't put it out there."

Aldo was visibly crushed afterwards, a photograph of the 29-year-old and his support staff sitting heads-bowed on their dressingroom floor conveying some of the desolation being felt. McGregor felt pity for the fallen idol.

"Jose has been a phenomenal champion," he said, before heading off to his after-party. "It would have been nice if the contest had stretched out a little longer. I still feel the same process would have happened. Timing beets speed, precision beats power. I respect jose, I wish him well but we're on to the next chapter.

"It's not the same when you fight me, it's a whole other ball game, a whole other pressure bubble.

When they show up and face me, they are re-energised. They become better. Maybe Jose should go back and regroup."

McGregor himself will go home. But there's no need to regroup, just a need to look towards the next step in his remarkable journey.

"Frankie had a good win," he said of Edgar's KO of Chad Mendes on Friday. "That [fight] could be for the featherweight belt, maybe the Jose rematch or maybe the 155lb [lightweight] strap. Options are a good thing in the fight game."

With history and Aldo in his wake, McGregor certainly has all options in front of him.

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