Friday 21 October 2016

Conor McGregor has eye on Croke Park date after epic win

Jose Aldo

CHAMPION Conor McGregor is eyeing up a huge Croke Park homecoming next year.

Fresh plans are being drawn up for the most anticipated fight in UFC history after McGregor won the interim featherweight world title in Las Vegas in the early hours of Sunday morning.

UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertita said that the grudge match between the Dubliner and Jose Aldo would “probably” now take place on January 2 in Las Vegas, but that nothing was “set in stone”.

Speaking at a post-fight press conference, McGregor said he intended to make a Dublin event happen.

“The stadium show in Dublin will happen... make no mistake about that,” he said.

UFC president Dana White has previously pledged that McGregor’s first title defence would be held on home soil.

The Crumlin-born fighter threw down the gauntlet to the Brazilian following his second round knockout victory over Chad Mendes in front of 11,000 Irish fans in the MGM Grand.

“In my opinion, Jose went running,” McGregor said.

"In my opinion, Jose went running," McGregor said.

"I had bigger injuries in the lead-up to this fight than that bruised rib and I still showed up here and performed.

"If he wants to come back, he can come back but I swear to God, his day will come," he said.

He could be set for a return to the MGM as early as January as UFC bosses revealed that they had reserved the venue for a potential McGregor v Aldo clash.

However, at a press conference after the featherweight fight he said that his would-be opponent wasn't worth talking about.

READ MORE: Fans do Conor proud as thousands arrive to turn Vegas green

"If it comes around, we'll discuss it then, but right now this is my night. This is Ireland's night. SBG (Straight Blast Gym), my family, this is our night," he said.

UFC president Dana White has pledged that McGregor's first title defence will be held on home soil in Croke Park.

His family joined the legion of Irish fans who travelled to Nevada to watch him claim the interim title.

READ MORE: Celebrities rush to congratulate McGregor on win

In an emotional after-match moment his mum Margaret kissed her son proudly on the forehead.

Despite emerging bloodied from the ring, the 27-year-old turned up at his after-party in a suave dark suit showing no ill-effects from the gruelling match.

READ MORE: Date set for Conor McGregor-Jose Aldo grudge match

His long-time girlfriend Dee Devlin wowed in a peach dress in the Foxtail nightclub in the SLS Hotel on the Vegas strip - with his shiny new belt around his waist. The fighter was joined by friends and family to toast his success.

McGregor said he was "blown apart" by the support from his home fans - 11,000 of whom packed out the historic venue.

The Notorious is famous for his fighting talk before stepping into the ring but following the fight his opponent revealed that he continued to goad him throughout their bout.

McGregor is set to rake in a significant six-figure sum for the fight.

On top of his prize money of around €450,000, the MMA hero will also see a cut of the millions taken in ticket sales and also a portion of the pay-per-view earnings.

Insiders have also tipped him to earn at least €1m in endorsements following the win.

The Irish betting industry suffered a blow similar to that of his opponent as the fight cost bookmakers in excess of €1m.

A spokesman for Paddy Power bookmakers said the fight was a "bloodbath" for the Irish bookie industry but added that the money would be paid out with a smile.

More than 90pc of bets wagered were for the Irishman to claim victory.

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