With ticket sales not looking the best and no real travelling Irish presence in the MGM Grand on Wednesday, UFC hoped that the press conference ahead of Saturday night’s rematch between Nate Diaz and Conor McGregor would bolster some interest.
Diaz and Dana White cut dejected figures as they took to the stage with co-main event pairing Glover Teixeira and Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson. McGregor, however, was nowhere to be seen.
Diaz initially shrugged his absence off, jokingly calling his no-show “rude”, but White was visibly agitated by the situation. Having pulled McGregor from the UFC 200 card due to his failure to show up for a press conference, you could understand the Bostonian’s frustration.
“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.”
Throughout his whole career, McGregor has been known for marching to the beat of his own drum, and more so, his own wristwatch. The fact that he usually provides endless quotations for the watching world to add interest to a card usually keeps him out of the bad books.
Despite him being pulled from the UFC 200 card for failing to travel for media obligations, ‘The Notorious’ was unapologetic when he joined Diaz at yesterday’s press conference, 15 minutes after it began.
“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.”
The excitement in the room definitely raised a few notches when McGregor arrived. After White insisted that McGregor would be moving back down to featherweight regardless of the result Saturday’s fight, the Irishman claimed that he hoped that a trilogy fight with Diaz would happen further down the line, which prompted the anti-hero to leave the stage.
It seemed as though the Stockton man was annoyed by McGregor’s lateness, and as he exited the building, he took aim at his entourage.
“F**k your whole team, how about that?” Diaz bellowed in the direction of the SBG team.
Photographers and media members leaped from their seats to get a closer look at Diaz’s exit. Rushing up behind him, Nick Diaz and other members of the 209 crew followed. When he reached the exit of the David Copperfield Theater, Diaz launched a bottle at the SBG team and all hell broke loose.
Security guards created a wall of bodies between the two teams as Peter Queally and Dillon Danis tried to make a beeline for Diaz and Co. Although White told him not to, clearly incensed, McGregor reached for the cans of Monster energy drink on the table in front of him and threw them in the direction of the Diaz camp.
Less than five minutes after McGregor’s initial appearance, White called time on the press event. Although some people are claiming that the Nevada State Athletic Commission will have something to say about the various objects that were thrown around the venue, the clash has certainly brought some much-needed interest to the contest.
Just what the Doctor Ordered
White may have claimed that McGregor needs to respect others people’s time, but the UFC president will be a lot more interested in their money ahead of Saturday night at the T-Mobile Arena.
Just before the press event started, various media members were discussing the lack of interest in the rematch, but the news of the near-melee traveled around the world in minutes after the event had finished.
Just last week, images of a fairly barren T-Mobile Arena went viral, proving that the success of the UFC 202 was far from a given. ESPN reported on Wednesday morning that there were still nearly three thousand tickets left for the card.
McGregor has long claimed that UFC 202 would outsell UFC 200, reports suggest that the marquee card scored just over a million buys, and up until Wednesday afternoon in Vegas it was anyone’s guess as to whether the Irishman and Diaz could still achieve that.
While McGregor has been claiming that UFC 196 is now the biggest pay-per-view in the history of the promotion, the company only came out and backed him in one of the latest promotional films for UFC 202.
There are many noted voices in the MMA world who have not held back with their criticism of what unfolded at yesterday’s press conference. Yet, as UFC continues to blur the line between sport and entertainment, McGregor and Diaz’s scuffle should prove that there is nothing like a bit of drama to sell a fight to the masses.