As we've come to expect from any pre-fight ceremony that involves #ConorMcGregor, there were a lot of bold (and dare I say, exaggerated) claims made during today's UFC 205 conference call, with the featherweight champion threatening to not only retire #EddieAlvarez, but also rearrange the bone structure of his face and force his kids to beg him against ever competing again.
Tucked in between those golden bits of hyperbolic trash talk, however, was an interesting potential factoid: #UFC205 has managed to trump both the #MadisonSquareGarden attendance record set by Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier's 1974 rematch, and the $40 million gate record set by Lennox Lewis vs. Evander Holyfield's initial meeting in 1999 (the latter figure of which has been recently corroborated by Dana White).
While the numbers don't seem to fit quite in line with McGregor's claim -- Lewis vs. Holyfield only drew a gate of $13 million, and actually outdrew Ali-Frazier II's crowd of 20,748 crowd by 500 or so people (likely thanks to the renovations made to MSG's seating between 1989-1991) -- it's a point well taken. McGregor has established himself as the biggest draw in UFC history -- and apparently, combat sports history -- with UFC 205.
So what's next for him?
Well, we know that the "Notorious" one is set to make a big reveal after the event that will come "completely out of left field," but that said reveal won't involve him stepping away from the sport for a year, as rumors have suggested (and as McGregor outright denied during today's call). So again I ask, what's next?
If you're McGregor's new bosses, the answer should be obvious: The Croke Park stadium show he's been asking for since he first stepped foot in the UFC.
And, if there is any semblance of truth to the numbers McGregor has been spouting -- and let's be real with ourselves, numbers are the one thing that he doesn't need to embellish -- then it's quite apparent that the man has grown too big for even the massive arena shows that America has to offer him. With MSG off the checklist and Vegas on his permanent blacklist, where else could he possibly be expected to fight. Is there even a venue that could handle the potential madness of a dual-belt holding McGregor facing Nate Diaz with the lightweight title on the line?
I know, I know, how dare I count out a gritty, tested veteran like Eddie Alvarez (which, I'm not), but just consider the following ...
McGregor is not the kind of guy to rest on his laurels, and we should probably expect that he's already planning out the next way that he can change the MMA game. Luckily, he has history on his side, because it just so happens that the 11 highest shows the UFC has ever done in terms of attendance took place on international soil, and of those 11, the top 4 took place inside stadiums.
With a capacity of 82,300, an event in Croke Park would be unlike anything the UFC had ever done before, and would shatter the 56,214 attendance record set by UFC 193 by nearly 30,000. Is McGregor capable of putting those kinds of asses in seats? The folks from Real Madrid seem to think so, and apparently have expressed interest in hosting a UFC card headlined by McGregor.
So while UFC 205 is still a week away, it's clear that McGregor mania has yet to reach its ceiling. And if American arenas from New York to Las Vegas aren't big enough for McGregor and his notorious Irish entourage, thousands deep, a stadium show is the logical progression following the UFC's debut in New York City.