There was nothing keeping UFC 202 in the Vegas consciousness when I arrived in Sin City on Tuesday afternoon.
For the other McGregor fights in Vegas, most North Americans would just have to hear you speak to know what your business in the ‘Fight Capital of the World’ was about, but this time when answering that you were in the city for a McGregor fight was greeted by a shocked expression.
Unlike UFC 189 and UFC 194, there is not the same Irish presence in Sin City this weekend. With those events, it felt like the entire population of Ireland had made the trip across, but you could count the number of McGregor’s countrymen with two hands yesterday in the David Copperfield Theater.
The press conference was the last great chance that UFC had to make the event feel important and when McGregor wasn’t present, Dana White made it quite clear that he wasn’t happy with the Irish superstar.
“We’re starting without him,” replied White when asked about McGregor. “He has to start respecting other peoples’ time more. Yours (media), theirs (the fans), mine, theirs,” he said gesturing to the other three competitors on the stage.
“We only have so much time in this room. Listen, we’re having a press conference here. If it’s over before he gets here then it’s over.”
Despite the obvious amount of expectation on McGregor at such media events, the Dubliner was completely unapologetic when he showed up for the event 15 minutes late:
“These events have got me kicked off cards before, but I’m still here and I’m ready to fight and that’s all that matters,” said McGregor on his arrival.
“You know you’re going to get a fight when I’m here. You know it’s going to be a show so forgot all this time keeping and other crap. I’m here.”
Diaz and White seemed to be in disbelief that McGregor had been so unpunctual for the contest despite being a serial offender in such cases. The media fired questions in the Irishman’s direction after his arrival, but Diaz had other plans outside of the Irishman’s thoughts.
Before McGregor had arrived, Diaz seemed to be texting on his phone. Shortly after his brother Nick arrived, the younger brother stood up from his table on the stage and made a beeline for the door.
“F**k your whole team, how about that?” shouted Diaz before he made his way to the exit.
His entourage tore towards the exit behind him. Just as Nate approached the door, he threw a bottle that sparked McGregor’s team into action. As Dillon Danis and Peter Queally’s efforts to get passed the wall of security, McGregor was incensed on the stage.
Seeing the items flying through the air and despite warnings from Dana White, McGregor start firing the various objects that sat on the table in front of him in the direction of his foe. On two occasions, it seemed as though the Irishman threw two full cans of Monster in the direction of the Diaz crew.
Just five minutes into his appearance at the press conference, his reaction to Diaz’s exit prompted the UFC president to call a halt to the proceedings.
Despite it definitely not being the greatest PR move for the sport of MMA, the incident has made UFC 202 the hottest show in Sin City this week. And although there could be some repercussions for the incident from the NSAC, the press conference did the job UFC wanted it to do, but in a very different manner than they had imagined.
Big Pop for Diaz
The contrast between when I first arrived in Vegas and when I left the press conference yesterday was quite striking.
Whereas I felt I was trying to convince people that McGregor was fighting on Saturday night when I first touched down, suddenly everybody has an opinion on the incident. Despite Diaz throwing the first object in the direction of the SBG front-runner, it seems to be McGregor who has come off the worse of the two.
“I hope Diaz kicks his ass, man,” a cab driver told me after the event. “It’s one thing to throw a plastic bottle, but a can? Come on, man.”
Back in Ireland, where the sport is already being criticized for the massive entertainment aspect it has, McGregor has been the talk of the island since the incident. Unsurprisingly, his capacity as a role model is being questioned – the first of many times the debate has hit the airwaves on the Emerald Isle.
It is very interesting to consider that McGregor’s failure to show up for the UFC 200 press conference cost him a place on the card, yet, his late showing at last night’s event appears to be the making of the event.
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