Conor McGregor and Sin City have been a match made in heaven.
The “Notorious” Irishman has enjoyed some of his greatest mixed martial arts triumphs in Las Vegas in recent months, posting stoppage victories against Chad Mendes at UFC 189 and Jose Aldo at UFC 194. For now, that’s where he’ll remain, as he faces Rafael dos Anjos for the lightweight crown at the MGM Grand Garden Arena at UFC 197 on March 5.
And if everything goes well for McGregor, he be on familiar ground again this summer when the promotion christens a new arena Las Vegas venue at UFC 200.
“I’ll be fresh after 197. I believe I will dust Rafael inside of one minute. He’s a slower, sloppier version of Aldo. He’s like a bum version of Aldo,” McGregor said during a recent press conference to promote UFC 197. “I believe inside one minute I will dust him; I will exit the contest fresh; I will cash the check; I will sign the next contract for UFC 200 at the brand new MGM and we’ll go again.
“2015 was my year. 2016 is also my year. Every year is my f---ing year.”
But what of McGregor’s long-desired dream to headline a stadium show at Croke Park in his native Dublin? Last year, UFC President Dana White promised the featherweight king that he could defend his belt in his home country should he defeat Aldo in December. Clearly, plans have changed since White made that proclamation last fall, and McGregor seems to be understanding of the logistical issues -- such as a city-imposed curfew -- that would accompany such an event.
“I do crave my stadium fight in Dublin. I just have to roll with the punches,” he said. “It’s an operation to set up a stadium show like that. There are restrictions, there are limitations. They’ve pulled concerts from the venue previous, so it’s a risk to go in and do something like that when I’m just knocking them out so easy and so smoothly. Just keep rolling; back to back to back.”
The last time McGregor fought in Dublin, he wasn’t nearly the star he is today. Still, the atmosphere was electric as the SBG Ireland product knocked out Diego Brandao at The O2 at UFC Fight Night in front of an enthusiastic throng of his countrymen. That was in 2014. Should he return this year, or sometime in the near future, it would be an even bigger production.
“I’ll get back to Dublin; we will do the show. But it takes time,” McGregor said. “It is a marathon, not a sprint. I look forward to one day having my home country lit up with a stadium show, but it is a work in progress.”