New York sets awkward stage for “biggest fight ever”
by Bryan Fonseca
Sep 26, 2018 | 739 views | 0 0 comments | 61 61 recommendations | email to a friend | print
We quickly learned why New York had its guard up when mixed martial arts kingpin Conor McGregor (21-3) strutted back into the city with one UFC world title over each broad shoulder – neither of which he actually holds anymore – last Thursday.

The gathering was at Radio City Music Hall to promote McGregor’s UFC Lightweight Title bout on October 6 in Las Vegas, billed as the biggest fight in the promotion’s history.

The Irishman will face the champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov (26-0), who won the title back in April at Barclays Center, a title stripped from McGregor due to inactivity. He hasn’t fought in MMA since 2016, but boxed Floyd Mayweather last summer, losing by TKO.

McGregor wasted no time at the press conference, closed to media members only, on the stage of Radio City.

“Smash me, mate. Smash me!” he demanded of Nurmagomedov, while getting out of his chair, as the champion responded to reporter’s question regarding expectations of the challenger.

“You say, ‘Send location,’” McGregor continued, poking fun at the imperfect English of his Russian adversary. “Here he is right in front of you. Did you not see me outside the bus? No? Did you not see me right in front of you outside the [expletive] bus?”

The mega-fight has been in the works for about two years, brought to light when Nurmagomedov called out McGregor after his UFC 205 victory, where McGregor later became the first simultaneous two-division champion in UFC history at the company’s first taste of Madison Square Garden.

Two days before Nurmagomedov won the title on April 7 at Barclays Center McGregor flew in from Ireland, unannounced, and attacked a bus loaded with UFC fighters competing in UFC 223. Chief among them was Nurmagomedov.

In July, McGregor pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct, avoiding jail time as a result.

“We have problems in New York, I don’t want any problems in New York today,” UFC President Dana White said at the press conference when asked why the decision was made to bar fans from the event.

“I showed you my hands, no weapons,” “The first thing (I did) when I showed up at the bus, I showed him my hands to let him know I come here unarmed,” McGregor recounted of the incident, standing up from his seat as White separated him and a sitting Nurmagomedov. “No weapons, step off the bus. You talked a big game, now I’m here.”

Two minutes later, he and White shared a shot of McGregor’s newly launched Proper No. 12 Whiskey, which, as part of his new six-fight deal with the UFC, is an official sponsor of the October 6th extravaganza.

White later said that McGregor is “better at mental warfare than Muhammad Ali” in a media scrum following the presser. As Nurmagomedov listened and played it cool, the possibly tipsy McGregor continued his verbal onslaught, winning the pre-fight portion of this feud, at least.

Too bad the fight is still over a week away.

“You hold onto legs for dear life,” he said, diminishing Nurmagomedov’s extensive wrestling background. “What kind of fighting is that?

“You beat a guy number-11 ranked real-estate agent,” McGregor continued, signaling out Nurmagomedov’s April victim in Long Island native Al Iaquinta, a replacement for the injured Max Holloway. “You bring that belt up on stage like it’s a real belt. You’re a phony and I’m going to expose you.”
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