Peter Carroll on how McGregor's special treatment from Dana White and the UFC has reached new heights
UFC president Dana White's demeanor at Thursday’s UFC 205 press conference bore a stark contrast to what we saw three months ago ahead of UFC 202.
McGregor’s tardiness obviously irritated the outspoken promoter, as he stood on the dais at the David Copperfield Theatre in the MGM Grand in August ad the now infamous press conference.
"He’s on his way," White told the gathering in Las Vegas. "So we’re starting without him. He has to start respecting people’s time, man. Yours, theirs, mine, theirs, David Copperfield’s; everybody’s. We have only so much time in this room."
When the same thing happened on Thursday, White laughed off McGregor being late, and explained that the Irishman’s behavior was to be expected in the "wacky business" that is the fight game. While you could have cut the tension with a knife when McGregor entered the stage in August, White was smiling and laughing as ‘The Notorious’ emerged yesterday like a gangster version of Cruella de Vil to the delight of the fans in attendance.
In August, there felt like there was pressure on McGregor to apologize for his actions, but yesterday his explanation that he "didn’t give a f**k" was accepted immediately.
Of course, it makes perfect sense that the UFC would give McGregor special treatment, based on the money he brings to the table for the company. Internal UFC documents obtained by MMAJunkie recently showed that ‘The Notorious’ made up a quarter of the promotion’s PPV sales in 2015. The documents also revealed that the Irishman was accountable for a total of over 2 million buys over the calendar year.
White’s reaction to the missile throwing at UFC 202 was to abandon the press conference, and his anger was evident based on backstage footage that was released the day after the incident.
The historic event in New York City is one of the most important moments for mixed martial arts in terms of the legitimization of the sport. It had been banned in the state for years, and the event at Madison Square Garden, one of the most iconic sports venues ever, authenticates the once elicit combat sport.
Given the importance of the event, McGregor picking up a chair and shaping as if he was trying to hit his UFC 205 opponent Eddie Alvarez in front of the gathered media may have called the sport into question. Yet, as McGregor always manages to do, the incident created an electric atmosphere ahead of his performance on Saturday night.
"Suck these big Irish balls," he told Alvarez, as the whoops and cheers rang around the venue.
The fanfare that surrounds McGregor in New York is greater than anything we have ever seen previously. The Dubliner was the right man to pick to be the headline act of the first ever UFC card in New York, given the city’s links to Ireland, and his presence in New York has underlined that throughout fight week.
Hundreds of fans have been cordoned off outside his hotel 24 hours a day. Each time the SBG frontrunner goes to and from his New York City headquarters, fans mob him for pictures and autographs.
Striking coach Owen Roddy, a man who has traveled to every single one of McGregor’s UFC outings, maintained that he had never seen anything like the fans in New York.
"The fans are outside all day, it’s incredible," said Roddy. "Every time we’re getting in and out of the car, they start running beside us as the car makes its way down the street.
"They have chased the car for 30 or 40 blocks just to get a picture with Conor and that’s not me exaggerating. It’s hilarious.
Image: ©INPHO/Tom Hogan
“Some poor young fellah today ran with us from Conor’s hotel right up to Madison Square Garden. He was right beside the car for the whole trip, and by the time we got there he looked like he was going to die!
"He wasn’t the only one who tried to do that, but he was the only one that lasted. About 20 to 30 others died out along the way to the venue. Fair play to that kid, he was hardcore."
It is hard to believe, but McGregor’s stock will be elevated even further on Saturday night, should he become the first man in the history of the promotion to hold two belts simultaneously.
The 28-year-old has already broken new ground for the promotion on several occasions with his record breaking performances, but the whispers around New York suggest that the Irishman is set for one of the biggest fights in combat sports history should he raise two titles aloft in the Garden on Saturday.
Unconfirmed reports have claimed that Floyd Mayweather will be in attendance at UFC 205 tomorrow night in New York. Although the thoughts of the two men fighting makes little or no sense as a sporting contest, the media frenzy it would cause would make it one of the most talked about fights of all time.
With McGregor contracted to UFC, the MMA promotion would undoubtedly make a lot of money by allowing their star to compete in a boxing bout with ‘Money’. Already the greatest earner in the history of the sport, McGregor has become a law unto himself with the UFC and as long as he keeps bringing in money, his special treatment will continue.