The UFC rolled into New York City yesterday to hype UFC 205 and front and center was the guy who seemingly is calling all the shots. Just ask him.
Of course, I’m referring to Conor McGregor.
This is the UFC’s first event in New York since 1995. The last card they were there was in Buffalo!! UFC 7!!
So there’s no way they have a card at Madison Square Garden, in the media capital of the world and now show up with a serious headliner; and they have it: Conor McGregor v. Eddie Alvarez for the lightweight title.
And McGregor was in the rarest of form yesterday. He must have forgotten how sick he was of promoting fights because he destroyed yesterday.
But you can see why; this is the very thing he lives for. The big arena. The big stage. And this is as big as gets: the UFC finally returning to New York and Conor wants to make damn sure everyone knew he’s the reason they’re all there. He’s the reason there’s so much hype and buzz. He’s the guy that every single fighter on that stage and in that sport, wants to be.
This dude is not only the most polarizing fighter in the game, he’s one of the most polarizing athletes I’ve ever seen. You either love this guy, or you hate this guy, there’s no one in between. And I love McGregor. I love him because other than Muhammad Ali, I’ve never seen an athlete with this guy’s rap.
This dude’s flair for the dramatic, his charisma and magnetism are freaking off the charts. His rap is legendary; it’s McGregor and everyone else, in that regard.
And he started in on Alvarez immediately, clowning him for his business acumen, calling him out for taking this fight without renegotiating his existing contract, basically laughing right in the guy’s face. He all but called this guy stupid.
And then when Alvarez said he was just fine with what he was making, McGregor laughed even harder. And by then, the only response Alvarez could muster was “this guy is easy money. Easy money.”
He’s not. And McGregor’s right; how do you not go back and bang on the table for more, when you’re in the biggest fight of the year, biggest fight of your career, and the company is returning to New York for the first time in more than two decades. And that was just the first of many verbal haymakers McGregor was to land on Alvarez.
Nate Diaz actually had the best tact. He just sat there, brooding. And didn’t give a damn. Not responding, not engaging and not letting Conor get in his head or under his skin. Much easier said than done, but always the best play. Because McGregor has defeated many guys before they even step in the cage; and even if he hasn’t beaten them with his psychological warfare, he’s already taken them out of their gameplan altogether.
Question is what happens when he and Alvarez get into the cage: that’s a different deal altogether. Alvarez is dangerous. He can strike. He’s a great wrestler and is the champ for a reason: actually lots of reasons. Conor has already predicted a knockout, but middleweight champ Michael Bisping, who likes McGregor, thinks, Alvarez is going to kill him: “I think Alvarez kills him man. He’ll just take him down and destroy him. I’m not saying that to be mean. I just think stylistically.”
Personally, I generally don’t pick against McGregor, but Bisping could be right. Everyone in this sport gets beat. McGregor has lost. It could happen again.
But for now, I’m just going to get my popcorn, sit back and enjoy the show. Because you know McGregor is going to give us one.