After McGregors triumph in UFC 205, the organizations new owners may as well give the Irishman a cut of the money. Hes doing whatever he wants now anyway
Conor McGregor may act like an unrepentant lout at times. He may taunt, scorn and torment his opponents, the way he played with Eddie Alvarez before finishing him off early Sunday morning. He may drive you nuts. But he has turned the UFC into his own little game, in which he makes the rules and picks the prizes. At some point you have to shake your head and marvel.
Well after midnight on Sunday morning, UFC president Dana White glowed as he sat at a table beneath the stands and said UFC 205 took in a gate of $17.7m a record for Madison Square Garden. And while the windfall was a result of perhaps the greatest fight card ever assembled, with three title match-ups in a single event, the reality of the money is that it was there because of McGregor. Without him the first UFCs first New York City event would have been a good night of fighting but nothing transcendent.
Listen, Ive never dealt with anybody like this kid, White said shaking his head in part awe and part frustration.
On Sunday morning, McGregor became the first UFC fighter to hold two titles simultaneously by beating Alvarez for the lightweight championship and refusing to give up the featherweight belt he won last December. He should not be able to do this. In fact, White himself has said that McGregor wouldnt be able to do this. By now, McGregor should have had to defend the featherweight title, perhaps with another fight against Jos Aldo, who he knocked out in 13 seconds at UFC 194. But McGregor has refused featherweight fights, choosing to chase the dual belts. Instead, he stood in the octagon after taking Alvarezs belt and screamed for it back so he could hold the two belts together.
The UFC had to chase down current welterweight champion Tyron Woodley, who had won his title defense earlier on Saturday, to see if they could let McGregor borrow it. One look at Woodleys face after the fight said he did not like this arrangement. But what choice did he have? McGregor needed a belt to hold and Woodleys was the closest. Woodley gave up the belt.
Then McGregor walked up to the same press conference table where White had raved about the money eared in UFC 205 and said he wanted a piece of the UFC. The organization was sold for a reported $4bn this summer, and McGregor believes probably correctly that he helped drive up the price. The purchasers, WME-IMG, have already added celebrities like Tom Brady, Ben Affleck, LL Cool J and Conan OBrien as minority owners, so early on Sunday McGregor asked for his piece too.
Conan is the owner of the UFC, he said. The new owners better call me.
I want my equity, he added.
Then he dropped a surprise. Hes going to be a father next year. He was sketchy on the details, but at some point in the first half of 2017 he will be a family man. And a family man needs a stable source of income even one who claims to have earned $40m in the past 12 months. And, well, why hasnt the UFC given him an ownership stake too? Hasnt he earned it?
The fact is the new owners, may as well cut McGregor in on their new money machine. Hes doing whatever he wants anyway. If the owners needed any reminder of what UFC 205 would have looked like without McGregor, all they had to do was look at the last time the organization tried to control the Irishman. That was this summer at UFC 200, which was supposed to be Whites signature event, until he pulled McGregor from the card for not properly promoting the event. Revenue from the event subsequently fell.
Since flattening Aldo, McGregor has done everything to avoid defending his featherweight belt. Now that he has taken the lightweight belt in a fight with Alvarez that was so lopsided he actually put his hands behind his back and dared the champion to hit him before ending the fight with a flurry of punches, he is dropping suggestions that he wants Woodleys title too.
He later chuckled at the memory of strutting from the arena floor lugging Woodleys belt pretending it to be the featherweight title that the UFC says he cant keep.
Maybe thats a sign of things to come, he said.
If he wants to fight for it the UFC will probably say yes( and on Sunday morning, Woodley said he would sign up immediately for a fight if McGregor wanted one). It seems hes calling all the shots. In less than a year he has made a complete mockery of the organization and their standards. He has won the featherweight belt, run off to fight Nate Diaz twice and taken the lightweight belt, whats to stop him from trying to grab the middleweight championship too? Whos going to tell him no?
Last night he stood in the octagon after beating Alvarez and surveyed yet another favored opponent vanquished and listened to the roar of another capacity crowd. He screamed for his two belts and then climbed the cage to wave them. When he took the microphone to talk to the crowd later, his voice softened and for a moment he sounded conciliatory: Id like to take this chance to apologize to absolutely nobody!
Why should he? Hes making up the rules as he goes along. And everyone else, including the UFC, is following them.
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