Watch: Conor McGregor predicts €40m windfall by the end of 2016 and quick finish of Eddie Alvarez in NYC
By dint of simply knowing better, few people took Dana White at his word when he told us that Conor McGregor would not be challenging Eddie Alvarez for the lightweight title at UFC 205 in Madison Square Garden and, last night, the Dubliner’s growing influence within the organisation was more evident than ever.
Not for the first time, and by no means will it be the last, UFC left a number of employees hugely disgruntled as they wilfully failed to make good on previous promises which were apparently set in stone.
For one, undefeated Dagestani lightweight contender Khabib Nurmagomedov found himself to have been moved around like the proverbial pawn as UFC sought to buy time and hammer out a favourable agreement with McGregor and Alvarez, who will now headline the promotion’s first ever event in New York city.
Nurmagomedov was given two bout agreements stipulating that he would be the first to challenge Alvarez for his crown, all the while White was adamant that McGregor was not in reckoning.
Alvarez, we were told, failed to sign his contract in time to face Nurmagomedov at UFC 205, so, instead, the two would meet at UFC 206 in Toronto in December.
Allegedly, McGregor was precluded from competing in the Big Apple due to the ankle damage he sustained in defeating Nate Diaz in their epic rematch at UFC 202 last month, though the Crumlin man’s camp quickly contravened this by confirming that he was fit and well.
Of course, White had also stated that McGregor must defend his featherweight title against Jose Aldo or immediately vacate it.
Believe or not, he has not been forced to do that either and, for what will be the second time in nine months, he will soon stand on the cusp of being the first man in UFC history to concurrently hold titles in two different divisions.
Subsequently, Aldo, universally regarded as one of the greatest fighters ever, has asked to be released from his contract due to these all too predictable developments, telling Brazilian media that he was nobody’s ‘whore’.
Nurmagomedov, at least, will still get to compete at UFC 205 after being belatedly matched with top 10 lightweight Michael Johnson, who recently dispatched of Dustin Poirier within a round.
To that end, and in front of a febrile gathering in Madison Square Garden, the promotion unveiled arguably their greatest ever fight card last night.
A cadre of the most elite combat talent on earth took their place on the tiered dais but, naturally, it was the man sitting directly to Dana White’s left who commandeered the spotlight.
In meeting Alvarez, a teammate of Frankie Edgar’s, the 28-year-old will take to the octagon for the fourth time in 11 months.
While the Philadelphian clearly views McGregor with a significant degree of contempt, there is a clear reason he held out to fight him – an unprecedented windfall.
At 32, and fighting professionally for well over a decade, the father of four will secure his financial future on November 12, regardless of the main event showdown’s outcome.
Indeed, McGregor was quick to point out that he was doing the 155lbs. kingpin an unwarranted favour by allowing him into his slipstream.
“He’s broke and he’s desperate. He’s like, ‘McGregor’s this and McGregor’s that’. We’ve heard it all before. He’s just another broke bum that can’t afford to pay his fucking bills. That’s all that is. Just another broke bum trying to sell some shit.”
While the delivery was typically belligerent, that fact remains that McGregor was the only logical candidate for both Alvarez and the UFC to secure a maximum return from what is a truly landmark showcase.
McGregor has almost single handedly changed the face of pay-per-view projections and, when asked what sort of compensation he expects to yield from what is scheduled to be a five-round contest, he was as emphatic as usual.
“I feel by the time 2016 closes out, I’ll be closing in on $40 million. This is a $40 million year for me. A damn good year.”
The Notorious claimed that, unlike his preparations for the the sequel with Diaz, there would be no bespoke training camp as he readies for Alvarez, who, according to McGregor, is just another ‘stocky wrestler.’
It will be McGregor’s first fight as a lightweight since joining the UFC, though this is the division that most consider to be his natural home.
While he and Alvarez both stand at 5’9, McGregor will enjoy a five-inch reach advantage, though the latter has been knocked out just once in 32 career fights and, pointedly, is a smothering, relentless grappler, in receipt of genuine concussive punching power.
However, McGregor certainly appeared suitably unimpressed by the credentials of a man who didn’t get to the UFC until his 30th birthday had passed.
"I'm very happy with the 155-pound weight limit. I feel like with all the divisions I ran around and ran through, 155 I feel will be the one where I take over the most.
"I love New York. I run this whole s**t. And Mystic Mac predicts I'm going to KO you inside of one round."