Thursday 26 April 2018

'I love seeing those Irish flags everywhere'- Conor McGregor rallies travelling support in Las Vegas

Conor McGregor during an open workout session ahead of UFC 194. Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE
Conor McGregor during an open workout session ahead of UFC 194. Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE

Joe Callaghan in Las Vegas

Conor McGregor toasted a sea of Tricolours on Thursday at the MGM and again promised to bring an end to Jose Aldo's marathon reign as featherweight champion at UFC 194.

After a slow start to the week, when the thousands of Irish who had been seen on the Las Vegas Strip back in July when last McGregor electrified the MGM, things ramped up significantly as the Dubliner and rival Jose Aldo went through the paces with public workouts.

"I love seeing those Irish flags everywhere, I f***ing love it," beamed McGregor he got drowned out by the Ireland fans, their numbers looking to have trebled in the space of 24 hours.

McGregor promised the recent arrivals that they would not be left disappointed after making the pilgrimage here, saying that Aldo, the division's immovable object, is now handcuffed into a situation that he cannot escape.

"I feel that he feels like he is handcuffed and forced into this. He doesn't want to be there. He's forced. The man is forced to do this," he said.

"When I look into his eyes he's confused, he doesn't know where he is. He cannot wait for this to be over.'

The Irish fans interrupted Aldo's own questioning with jeers and jokes about his ribs. Their idol later said that, for now, he still has no respect for the UFC's only ever featherweight king.

"Respect for me is earned through battle. If he shows up, fights with his heart, you have my respect. A man that has ran? I cannot respect a man who has ran who has evaded. If he stands across from me in the octagon and gives me the exchanges he says he can [I will respect him]."

McGregor looked in supreme condition in a busy 20-minute run through for the crowd who had booed Aldo to the rafters an hour earlier. The Notorious one said he is in a much better state of body and mind compared to that July bout with Chad Mendes when he nursed a serious knee injury.

"I wasn't lying when I said I had a hell of a lot of adversity to overcome. Here you see me in my prime, no corners cut. I feel good, look good in my face. This is the day before weigh-in, the toughest day for a competitor and I feel Saturday night I will reap the rewards," added the 27-year-old, who insisted he's happy with his current business arrangements with UFC chiefs but he would prefer to be fighting on a much, much more regular basis.

"I feel I'm already making [money]. I don't feel like an employee," he said. I feel like a business associate. A lot of them don't want to fight. I would have had about three more fights by now [if I was in charge of it]. I would love freedom to pick and choose my fights of course - while you're young, fresh and healthy. Stay busy, get in and compete."

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