Friday 9 December 2016

'The king is back': McGregor storms Las Vegas

Joe Callaghan and Elaine McCahill

Published 22/08/2016 | 02:30

Golfer Rory McIlroy (centre) and singer Niall Horan (right) celebrate with Conor McGregor at the after-fight party in Las Vegas Photo: David Becker/Getty Images for Wynn Las Vegas
Golfer Rory McIlroy (centre) and singer Niall Horan (right) celebrate with Conor McGregor at the after-fight party in Las Vegas Photo: David Becker/Getty Images for Wynn Las Vegas

Conor McGregor stormed to victory in a bloody battle against his nemesis Nate Diaz in Las Vegas on Saturday.

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The Crumlin UFC fighter said that he has big plans in the pipeline after putting his March defeat behind him in an intense five-round battle in the UFC 202 rematch.

Conor McGregor celebrates his UFC 202 victory with fans at an after-show party Photo: David Becker/Getty Images for Wynn Las Vegas
Conor McGregor celebrates his UFC 202 victory with fans at an after-show party Photo: David Becker/Getty Images for Wynn Las Vegas

"Surprise, surprise - the king is back," roared McGregor after the bruising fight. "If you want the trilogy, it's on my terms. I knew what I had to do this time around and I did it."

The Dubliner was taken straight to hospital after his gripping majority-decision triumph and with the UFC's highly anticipated Empire State debut on November 12, McGregor faces a race to recover in time to be part of the historic card.

UFC president Dana White insisted afterwards The Notorious has to defend the featherweight title he claimed from Jose Aldo Jr or relinquish it.

McGregor (28), who set a new record with a base purse of $3m (€2.6m), which is likely to soar into eight figures once pay-per-view dollars roll in, bristled at suggestions he could be stripped of his 145lb title.

McGregor relaxes with his girlfriend Dee Devlin following the fight Photo: David Becker/Getty Images for Wynn Las Vegas
McGregor relaxes with his girlfriend Dee Devlin following the fight Photo: David Becker/Getty Images for Wynn Las Vegas

"I don't think they want to do that," said McGregor, before his precautionary trip to hospital. "How can they do that? What would that do to the division if the guy that I KO'd in 13 seconds is the champion?

"We've got a lot to talk about, but I'm in a beautiful, beautiful position now and that was built on hard work, and I'm going to capitalise on that. We'll see. I have other stuff in the pipeline. S*** is about to hit the fan."

Golfer Rory McIlroy, singer Niall Horan and boxer Mike Tyson were also among the crowd watching as McGregor put on the fight of his life.

His 'Irish army' had travelled from afar to see what they dubbed as the "fight to end all fights".

McGregor's supporters were mainly made up of J1 students who finished their summer adventures with a blow out trip to Las Vegas to see their homegrown hero come out on top once again.

A group of boys clad in Irish flags stormed the lobby of the famous MGM Grand and boasted about their "incredible last hurrah" before heading home after a summer in the States.

"We've been on a J1 in Chicago and we had to come down for the fight," Mark Healy (22) from Drogheda said.

"We went to the weigh-in and the atmosphere was just incredible. All the Irish were dancing on seats because they were so excited and to see Conor win tonight has just made our whole trip."

Dylan Kennedy (21) from Mullingar and his group of friends were lucky enough to nab some of the discounted tickets to the fight.

With the Euro 2016 championship earlier this summer and McGregor's increasing number of fights, fewer Irish fans than usual made the trip to Sin City and promoters slashed the price of tickets from $400 (€354) to $215 (€190).

Irish Independent

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