NEW YORK– The Ultimate Fighting Championship and its supporters stormed into Madison Square Garden Saturday night at UFC 205 and the results are in, Conor McGregor is the face of mixed martial arts.
The UFC reported an attendance of 20,427 while a new gate record was set at $17.7 million, due in large part to the “Notorious” UFC featherweight and lightweight champion, Conor McGregor. McGregor, 28 is the first fighter to hold two UFC titles simultaneously, a feat that he completed with flying colors as he captured both titles via KO and TKO.
His featherweight title was earned in a 13-second knock out win over Jose Aldo last December at UFC 194 while his lightweight title came via technical knockout in the second round against Eddie Alvarez. The historic night on Saturday was a long awaited one as years of struggle in legalizing mixed martial arts competition in New York came to an end, ushering in a new beginning for New York sports and Madison Square Garden history.
McGregor, known for his tendency of knockouts and a lavish wardrobe offers the best of both worlds in terms of fighting and promotion. UFC president Dana White openly stated that McGregor receives special treatment, but only because of his handling of the fight game. McGregor fought three times in the span of the past nine months, including a late change of opponent at UFC 196, in which Nate Diaz defeated him. Seven of his 10 fights under the UFC banner were victories via KO or TKO. On the numbers side of things, McGregor established himself as the company’s current #1 pay-per-view and live gate draw.
The proud Dublin native’s gift of gab and mastering of psychological warfare quickly garnered an earnest fan base as well as a hate parade. The media’s favorite sound bite makes every second count when in front of the camera and his humble beginnings as a one-time plumber collecting welfare checks only furthers fan interest. Now, the UFC’s money fight is a fight against McGregor as he has let it be known that he is the biggest payday for anyone who stands across from him in the cage. Despite a short-lived retirement and hints of friction between the Irishman and the UFC during the summer, McGregor ends his year ahead of his peers and seeking a stake of ownership of the UFC. WME-IMG’s $4 billion purchase of the company resulted in various fighters wanting a bigger piece of the pay, including the dual champion.
The question of what’s next for the two-weight champ is always an intriguing one, as the possibilities remain endless when it comes to the UFC’s highest reportedly paid star. Perhaps an attempt at capturing a record third UFC title at welterweight against Tyron Woodley, who he’s already verbally sparred with. Or maybe a third fight against Nate Diaz who he defeated in a close decision in August at UFC 202. McGregor’s vow to never fight in Nevada following a $150,000 fine over a water bottle throwing incident at the UFC 202 press conference leaves the door open for a return to New York for a potential encore. Still, with his impressive fight activity and the post fight news of McGregor expecting a child next Summer, an extended time away from the octagon is likely what’s best for “Mystic Mac.”