McGregor turned in the most astonishing night yet in his remarkable journey to the summit of the mixed martial arts world, a record-breaking 13-second demolition of previously undefeated Brazilian icon Jose Aldo Junior in Las Vegas on Saturday night.
It was the kind of extraordinary outcome that ensured the question on most of Sin City’s lips was — what next?
“If they offer me Croke Park, or if they offer me the football [Aviva] stadium, you’re damn right I’m gonna take it,” said McGregor, before being asked whether he was not now in a position to demand it. “Maybe I can these days. But I’m gonna sit back in the shadows for Christmas and plot. Then I’ll come back.”
The prospect of a Croke Park title defence has long been mooted by UFC president Dana White, but the chances of it coming to fruition remain slim. While an 80,000-plus crowd would garner attention, time differences would dent hit pay-per-view revenue, the UFC goldengoose.
Headlining the historic first ever UFC fight card in New York — set to be confirmed for late April — is perhaps a more realistic target, with No.1 featherweight challenger Frankie Edgar campaigning for that outcome. McGregor has plenty of choices ahead.
“The options are there now,” he said. “Frankie had a good win [over Chad Mendes on Friday], that could be for the featherweight belt. Maybe the Jose rematch or maybe the 155lb [lightweight] strap. Options are a good thing in the fight game. I am looking to replicate what I did in my previous promotion, two-weight world champion, held consecutively. I said I would do it, and I’ll do it.”
With a record gate of $10.1 million (€9.1m) at the MGM on Saturday and PPV takings on track to also set records tumbling, McGregor’s total UFC 194 pay day, with bonuses, were estimated at around $5.5m, or around $425,000 per second of action.
“Tonight was a phenomenal night. A $10.1m gate. We’ve done it again. What did Mayweather-Pacquiao do?” he asked. “$72m? That’s [the aim]. I’m catching up. I’m only 27, those guys were 40. I’m only warming up.”