With gold in each hand and hoisted toward the sky, the King honored his loyal subjects.
Conor McGregor, the big-talking and big-punching fighter from Ireland, came to a new city and conquered what was put in front of him.
McGregor, with a second-round knockout of Eddie Alvarez before close to 20,000 fans, became the lightweight champion of the world at UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden in the early morning hours of Sunday. That accounted for one hand’s worth of gold.
That other strap of gold parading around the octagon — inside the “World’s Most Famous Arena” for the first time in history — was the featherweight title McGregor won last December (and has yet to defend).
McGregor became the first fighter in UFC history to hold titles in two weight divisions at the same time. What happens next in those divisions remains to be seen. UFC president Dana White has said McGregor would have to give up one of the belts. McGregor has disagreed.
“I’ve earned something," McGregor said. "Who owns the company now? People have shares in the company. Celebrities. Conan O’Brien owns the UFC now. So where’s my share? Where's my equity? If I'm the one that’s bringing this. They’ve gotta come talk to me now, that’s all I know. I've got both belts. Let's show the money. A little family on the way. You want me to stick around, you want me to keep doing what I'm doing, let's talkm but I want the ownership now. I want the equal share. I want what I deserve, what I've earned."
The Fertitta brothers, Lorenzo and Frank, sold the UFC to WME-IMG last July for a reported $4 billion. Shortly afterward, they announced that a number of celebrities and athletes also own shares in the company, a list that includes Tom Brady and Serena Williams.
"I'm aware of my worth," McGregor said. "Now I've
McGregor’s prediction for the fight didn’t quite come true. He said he’d knock out Alvarez in the first round. He needed a second round, though he did knock down Alvarez three times in the opening round.
It wasn’t until the second round when McGregor, the featherweight champion, finally ended Alvarez’s night at the 3:04 mark.
“Eddie is a warrior but he shouldn’t be in there with me," McGregor said. "I am a different level. Now, I celebrate as champion of two divisions.”
It was a left hand that delivered the final blow, just as it did so many of the significant strikes landed by McGregor (21-3, 9-1 UFC) on the night. Alvarez (28-5, 3-2) never had much of a chance to mount an attack as each time he came at McGregor with a big right hand, McGregor slipped and countered with a left.
“Where’s that second belt?” McGregor asked in his in-ring interview after having the lightweight title snapped around his waist. “They should have those two belts ready special for me.”
He eventually got both belts in his hands. Which one, if any, will he hand back?