UFC Boston Road Report: The Great Irish Hope, TUF pre-screening thoughts, more

Conor McGregor

By Josh Nason

So what if Conor McGregor loses?

At just 25 years of age, the Dublin, Ireland, native has been the star of the build up of UFC Fight Night: Boston since he got in town, starting with his own media day Tuesday at Peter Welch's gym. He is everything that media and fans love: honest, likable, flashy, charismatic and more. He even led off the latest UFC Ultimate Insider with a very good feature piece.

There are Irish reporters here, UFC prez Dana White is already being asked about a TUF Smashes show with McGregor as a coach and he’s being hailed as the savior for the world’s biggest combat sport league returning to Ireland. The organization even held a ‘create a poster’ contest for him, the results of which are above.

There have been few relative newcomers in recent UFC history with as much buzz as McGregor. At the weigh-ins, his family even got cheers. Have I mentioned that he’s fought just once in the Octagon for a whopping 67 seconds? Yet, it seems like he’s the messiah of the UFC’s attempts to grow overseas.

To his credit, McGregor (13-2) has taken it all in stride and isn’t shy about attracting more attention his way. He’s got a unique fashion sense and on Thursday, wore a black flat brim baseball hat, sunglasses, and a fully buttoned up long sleeve shirt to the pre-event press conference.

“I’m here to whip ass and look good. I’m doing one right now and on Saturday, I'll do the other,” he said.

And that he’s done. Fighting nearly exclusively in Ireland during his career, McGregor won eight in a row before getting the call to fight Marcus Brimage in Stockholm, Sweden, earlier this year. Since his career started in March 2008, he’s never gone the distance and has T/KO wins in 12 of 13 career victories.

As White traveled to Ireland, he said all he heard about was McGregor and when he would get his opportunity to compete in the UFC.

“When I first heard of him, I thought he was a heavyweight,” White said. “He’s a tough kid with a great personality and a lot of people like him. Ireland hasn’t had a great fighter since (championship boxers) Wayne McCullough and Steve Collins.”

But the fact remains that a tough challenge stands in his way in 7-2 Max Holloway, an injury replacement for Andy Ogle. At 21 years young, he’s already 3-1 in the UFC with wins over Leonard Garcia, Justin Lawrence and Pat Schilling. Coming off a tight May split decision loss to Dennis Bermudez, he is clearly the more Octagon experienced fighter by a long shot. Yet, no one is even whispering about him being a formidable challenge for McGregor Saturday night.

So again, what if he loses? It certainly won’t be the first time a heavily promoted fighter has gone down, and definitely won’t be the last. White admitted this week that when a guy catches fire, you have to keep adding fuel to capitalize when you can. Without a doubt, the UFC needs more charismatic stars and McGregor is a hurricane of fresh air in that regard.

“I don't care about what people say or about any hype. The end result isn't in my thoughts. I go and do what I do. I’m living the dream, and am a happy man,” he said. “No matter what, nothing changes for me. I’m creative and go forward. I don't care what people say. The support is great, and I’m here doing my thing. Nothing else comes into the equation.”

But with all of the attention he’s garnered after just over a minute’s worth of work in the big leagues, it seems fairly simple. McGregor HAS to win Saturday night, both for him and all of us. That would be the ultimate result of the equation.

News & Notes

I didn’t do a press conference post Thursday as I didn’t really think there was a ton of news coming out of it. The amount of non-attention co-main eventer Alistair Overeem is attracting is astounding and there’s been plenty of discussion amongst the media this week about what his future holds with the UFC if he loses to Travis Browne.

Chael Sonnen became the pitchman with an amazing promo for Fox Sports 1, but I still don’t feel like this is an emotional fight between he and 'Shogun' Rua. Both guys have respect for each other and this should be an interesting battle of striker vs. wrestler. However, no one seems to care. The main talk is about the show as a whole and the debut of Fox Sports 1. Oh, and the Culinary Union battles of course.

If you want to watch for yourself, here you go.


Still don’t know how to find Fox Sports 1? Here you go. They’ve been making some updates as earlier in the day, I was instructed to go to a channel occupied by Spike TV. Irony!


UFC Fight Night Presser

On Thursday night, we got an advance viewing of the first episode of the new Ultimate Fighter season with Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you about it as we all had to sign the legendary $5 million waiver that the participants sign. I can’t even tell you about the Q & A with Rousey, Tate, and White before the airing and what Rousey and Tate said after seeing the first episode. I really, really want to though. Really.

Here’s what I will tell you: the women add a different and welcome element in the mix. Honestly, their fights will likely be must-see viewing during the season as we’ve seen enough TUF fights with no names to last a few lifetimes. Before I saw the episode, I had a gut feeling that this season would result in Rousey being turned on publicly like Jon Jones. I wish I could tell you about how I feel after the 90 minutes I saw, but I will when it airs. I can say that it’s well worth watching, especially with free popcorn and soda.

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