McGregor fever as Irish fans flock to Las Vegas
With flags and Christmas jumpers at the ready, thousands of Irish fans are flying to Las Vegas to show their support for 'The Notorious' Conor McGregor.
The Crumlin fighter faces the biggest fight of his career on Saturday when he takes on Jose Aldo in UFC 194 at the city's MGM Grand Arena.
One fan flying to Vegas today is Paul Greene (33) from Dublin.
"The atmosphere was electric when he beat Mendes in July," he told the Herald. "I go to all sporting events, All-Ireland finals and boxing events and this was just insane."
After the last win he and wife Jayne brushed shoulders with McGregor and his coach John Kavanagh at a celebratory pool party.
"As soon as McGregor started in MMA, I got really into it. When it's one of your own it's different to watching any old Joe Soap. I think he should win easily.
"I spent double the amount going over the last time than this time - because it's the week before Christmas, it's cheaper than going in July. I'm going for five days and staying in the Luxor Hotel, which is just off the Strip. My wife got me the ticket as a surprise."
After Friday's weigh-ins, the city is expected to be infiltrated by Irish in Christmas clothing.
Paul Humphries (24) and Conor Davis (23) - both from Co Meath - have so far raised over €850 through a 'Twelve Pubs of Vegas' fundraiser for the Simon Community.
"We decided after seeing a supporters' group talking about wearing Christmas jumpers and it blew up after a few hours," said Paul.
"The MGM is an 18,000-seat theatre and apparently over 11,000 of them are Irish."
Paul said the fight has been the first thing he thinks about when he wakes up in the morning.
"It surprisingly isn't costing too much to go over," he said. "The ticket is about the same price as the flights and accommodation together. It's 100pc worth it."
The Black Donellys, a Dublin band now based in Las Vegas, are hopeful that McGregor will walk in to 'Notorious', a song they have penned in his honour.
"It's Conor-fever over here and we thought it would be great if he could have something to walk into," band member Dave Browne said.
"The last time all the Irish turned out to the Las Vegas Strip and it was like All-Ireland day. There were 8,500 to 9,000 Irish people out here, in county jerseys."
Paul Dawson of Dawson Travel said: "We would expect around 5,000 Irish fans to make their way there not only from Ireland but from all over the world."