UFC featherweight champion Conor McGregor (pictured) officially joined the lightweight division just nine days ago, but it didn’t take long for the “Notorious” one to notify his new weight class who was now running things.
Before even agreeing to dabble in lightweight, McGregor astutely observed that “the [lightweight] division needs me, I don’t need it” before spotlighting the fact reigning 155-pound champ Rafael Dos Anjos’ first title defense was going to be broadcast free on FOX rather than pay-per-view.
McGregor made this statement about an hour after knocking out Jose Aldo in 13 seconds to unify the featherweight crown at UFC 194, which set a UFC-U.S. live gate record of $10.1 million and reportedly garnered over one million PPV buys courtesy of McGregor.
With zero UFC lightweight fights under his featherweight belt, McGregor promptly leapfrogged the line and was granted an immediate shot at Dos Anjos’ title at UFC 197.
The UFC flew the show’s four biggest stars to Las Vegas Wednesday to host a kick-off press conference to promote the extravaganza. The presser was scheduled to being at 11AM local time.
UFC president Dana White was joined at the podium by Dos Anjos, bantamweight champ Holly Holm and her challenger, Miesha Tate. One chair sat noticeably empty because McGregor decided he would show up fashionably late.
McGregor’s explanation for his delay, “I apologize for my tardiness. I do not wear watches to tell the time,” as he flashed his latest expensive gold ticker.
McGregor’s late arrival was his version of a Freudian Slip. It was no accident, he was sending a message to Dos Anjos that while he may currently sit atop the lightweight throne, he was merely keeping the cushion warm because McGregor is the real star.
For the next 40 minutes, McGregor proceeded to dominate the press conference. Not only because the chatty Irishman knew he was the one everyone came to see, but nearly every time Dos Anjos was asked a question, McGregor was the one answering or interrupting to put in his two cents.
It was another way of McGregor letting the champ know that nothing goes on in the lightweight division without his say.
Dos Anjos better be ready, because the mental warfare is only just beginning. Otherwise, he’ll lose the belt long before even stepping into the cage on March 5.