Wednesday 21 February 2018

Conor McGregor weighs in heavier than ever

Joe Callaghan in Las Vegas

Wasn't this supposed to be a bit more low key? Conor McGregor stepped on to the scales at the biggest weight of his professional career in Las Vegas on Friday afternoon as a raucous crowd and another invasion of Irish fans appeared almost from thin air.

McGregor tipped the scales at 168 pounds, easily under the 170lb limit for his welterweight showdown with Nate Diaz at the Grand Garden Arena on Saturday night. With no title and no history on the line, there had been expectations that the headline bout of UFC 196 would fail to match the wild atmosphere of McGregor's two most recent outings in the fight capital.

Those predictions grew as fight week rolled on with little sign of the Tricolour brigade massing on the Strip. Yet on Friday morning, they had come marching through the side streets off the Strip, descending on the MGM Grand for a glimpse of their hero.

Diaz, who had stepped in to take the fight on 11 days notice when lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos went down with a broken foot, weighed in just a solitary pound heavier than McGregor as the thousands packed into the arena rained boos Down on the Californian.

Once McGregor joined him on the stage the decibel levels soared. McGregor saluted the crowd and rubbed his belly, the weigh-in day struggles of hIs featherweight days a thing of the past as he jumped two divisions in the space of three months.

The fighters, who have traded an increasingly heated series of verbal jousts in the fortnight of build-up, all but came to physical blows 24 hours earlier in the final pre-fight press conference in another corner of the megacasino. UFC supreme was intent on keeping the rivals apart this time out however.

As Diaz skulked off stage, McGregor had one last jibe for his elder, more experienced opponent.

"How can a fat guy be so skinny at the same time?" he said, much to the approval of the masses. "The weight should never be an issue for a champion."

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