LAS VEGAS — Conor McGregor, he of the high-fashion three-piece suits and higher-quality sound bytes, sat calm and reserved on the dais in jeans and slick golf shirt.
He was in “a state of Zen,” he said at the UFC 194 news conference inside the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Such a state, while lowering the usual high-energy feel of a Conor McGregor event to something more resembling study hall, still delivered.
“This one will be a spectacle,” McGregor of Saturday’s featherweight unification title fight against champion Jose Aldo. “This one will be a master class. This one will be a changing of the guard.
“I am a man with something to prove and a man with something to prove is a dangerous individual.”
McGregor is the interim champion, a title he earned after beating Chad Mendes at UFC 189 in July. Mendes took the fight with less than two weeks’ notice after Aldo pulled out of the fight late with a rib injury.
That was supposed to be the biggest card of the year. Now, Saturday night is. In addition to the culmination of the nearly yearlong Aldo-McGregor hype, Long Island’s Chris Weidman defends his middleweight title against Luke Rockhold.
Aldo (25-1), the reigning champion who hasn’t lost a fight in 10 years, actually is the underdog in most of the sports books here.
“If the fight stays on the feet, I’m going to finish it. If it goes to the ground, I’m going to finish it there as well,” Aldo said through a translator. “If you want to win some easy money, bet on Jose Aldo.”
McGregor has made a splash with his banter, persona and fighting in the cage. He also has a tendency to predict when his fights will end. He often is correct.
“Anything after that four-minute mark of the first round would be a formality,” McGregor said. “I see him crumbling . . . but it will be wrapped up inside of one.”
Asked to visualize how that will happen when his opponent is among the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world, McGregor spoke calmly and slowly, his “state of Zen” punctuated by each dramatic pause.
“I will pressure him, I will evade him,” McGregor said. “I will strike him with every limb. The knee, the heel, the fist, the elbow. I will be a ghost in there. He will think I’m there and then I’m not there. He will think I’m not there and then I’ll be there.”