Sunday 17 December 2017

'The Notorious' fans floored by scalpers

Tickets for the sell-out Ultimate Fighting Championship are on sale online for over €600 each.

KICK: Conor McGregor in the ring
KICK: Conor McGregor in the ring
Ian Morris

Ian Morris

SOLD out in three minutes! That's all the time it took for the Irish public to demonstrate the popularity of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), which will be returning to the O2 in Dublin on July 19, for UFC Fight Night 46.

When tickets went on sale on June 6, there was an online frenzy. Supply inevitably failed to meet the demand of Irish fans, whose hearts were set on being there to support Ireland's 'The Notorious' Conor McGregor as he takes on Brazil's Diego Brandao in the event's headline bout.

TV3 has been in advanced negotiations to purchase the terrestrial TV rights for the event for their second channel, 3e, with the intent to broadcast the occasion live and free to Irish homes. So anyone who doesn't have a ticket will hopefully be able to tune in at no cost to support McGregor.

There are at least two more Irish fighters confirmed for July's fight card; Neil Seery, who faces Englishman Phil Harris in the flyweight division; and Northern Ireland's Stormin' Norman Parke who is set to take on Japan's Naoyuki Kotani. But McGregor Vs Brandao is the fight that has everyone scrambling to find tickets.

Naturally the scalpers and touts haven't missed a trick, as tickets quickly became available online for more than three times their original cost with seats in the nosebleeds being offered at around €250 a head. If you want to get close enough to really see the action, then you can expect your ticket to cost in excess of €600.

The UFC's rising popularity over the last two decades coupled with the fact that we have a hometown headliner, who's not only a serious contender but a serious attraction as well, makes for an event that is guaranteed to sell tickets no matter what the cost.

Since 2011, Conor McGregor has been undefeated, with 10 consecutive victories (eight knockouts and one submission) and though his most recent bout, with American fighter Max Holloway, went the distance; McGregor dominated every round leaving audiences wondering why he hadn't finished off his opponent. After the fight, it transpired that Conor had torn an anterior cruciate ligament in his knee early in the second round, an injury that would have stopped many fights in an instant. But not 'The Notorious'. He is not content with the notion of being a successful reliable fighter, he wants to be the very best and isn't afraid of being targeted for his outspoken ambitions.

"I want that target on my back. I want every one of them. I don't understand how so many of these guys have had so many fights in the UFC and have no aspirations whatsoever of the belt... Anyone that's in my way is in the firing line... They shouldn't be there. I'm out here working to become the greatest. That's my goal. I'm looking to go down as the greatest of all time. Hall of fame. History maker," he says.

McGregor was originally down to fight Cole Miller, who has been forced to withdraw due to torn ligaments in his thumb, much to the annoyance of the Irish fighter and his fans, who were looking forward to seeing McGregor settle his grudge with the American fighter who began referring to him as "Colin McGoober" last October.

McGregor now faces tougher competition in the form of Brazilian Diego Brandao, who was the winner of season 14 of The Ultimate Fighter, but McGregor seems totally unfazed. "I'm not here to make up the numbers. I'm here to take over. The fastest selling UFC event in history – the first UFC Fight Night that Fox are looking to show... This is what I want."

To prepare for his upcoming bout with Brandao, Conor has travelled to Iceland for a 35-day intensive training camp at Mjolnir gym. "We have five weeks in Iceland," says McGregor, "swimming in the sea from one city to another. The air is fresh, it's a great place, it'll be a great camp."

Despite McGregor's promising stats, he has drawn some criticism for his confidence and outspoken behaviour. His detractors are quick to point out that he has yet to fight any top 10 fighters and that were he to lose his upcoming fight, he would face huge embarrassment given all the hype that has surrounded him in recent months.

McGregor doesn't sweat his critics though; only finding strength in their negativity. "The support gets you going, gets me to the gym. But the doubt keeps me there. It all works out perfectly. It pushes me to strive for that."

Sunday Independent

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