'It's nuts in Vegas already – I've put in my biggest ever drinks order' - MGM restaurant owner on Irish invasion
Published 10/12/2015 | 14:25
Las Vegas is hosting the biggest fight in UFC history and the MGM Grand is preparing for the arrival of more than 10,000 Irish fans for Conor McGregor's hotly-anticipated UFC showdown with José Aldo.
Vegas is expected to be a sea of green for the featherweight unification title fight between the two rivals and one Irish business owner in the MGM is gearing up for an incredible sporting weekend.
Raheny man John O’Donnell, a partner in Crush restaurant at the MGM, left Ireland as a teenager and moved to Las Vegas in 1996.
Now something of a celebrity in his own right with high profile guests to the restaurant, he is expecting the biggest weekend in Vegas since the Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao fight in May.
"After the weigh-in it's going to be mental," he told Independent.ie, adding that most business owners are gauging for around 11,000 people to attend the pre-fight ceremony.
"It's going to be nuts. As an Irishman here 20 years, I'm so proud. These Irish guys are good guys. The Americans love it too, though they have no idea what they are singing about."
Hotels like The MGM Grand, The Bellagio, The Luxor and The Mirage are stocking up on Guinness and whiskey as the sea of green makes its way to Sin City for UFC 194 and O'Donnell doesn't want a repeat of McGregor's last fight in Vegas when they ran out of stock for the thirsty fans.
For most concerts and events a staff force of 25 is sufficient, but O'Donnell says he will have more than 40 people working on the night to cater for the influx of fans.
"Our catering team here at the MGM have placed their biggest ever order of Guinness, beer and Jameson. We ran out in July, so we don’t want that to happen this time around."
"The invasion has already begun. I was in a bar in the MGM last night and there were more than 200 Irish fans in there in full spirits. They all look like McGregor with the facial hair and pony tails. It's incredible. Maybe I'm getting old, but they all look like hipsters to me."
Despite the huge numbers of Irish travelling to take in the fight, the businessman says there has never been an ounce of trouble in the previous visits.
"They reckoned 2,500 came for the Chad Mendes fight and there wasn't one bit of trouble. That figure could be more than quadrupled this time around and I expect they will be just as well behaved.
O'Donnell says 'The Notorious' is a friend and a regular to the restaurant and among the many well-known Irish faces that have come to dine and say hello to the charismatic Irishman
"Jamie Heaslip and Sean O'Brien have been in a few times and earlier this week Pierce Brosnan text me asking to keep him two tickets for Friday and Saturday," he said.
"Everyone wants to get their hands on the hottest tickets in town."
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