By Mark Daniels, Boston Herald
Conor McGregor has only fought once for the UFC. He was inside the cage for just 67 seconds.
But the Dublin, Ireland, native came to the Hub yesterday with more hype than nearly any UFC fighter has had after a debut.
“You’ve got that right,” said UFC president Dana White. “Other than (former WWE superstar) Brock Lesnar.”
That was evident as local fight fans came out in droves to see McGregor work out at Peter Welch’s Gym in South Boston. As the 25-year-old stepped into the ring, the crowd erupted, eliciting a big smile from McGregor, who takes on fellow featherweight Max Holloway on Saturday on the UFC Fight Night 26 card at TD Garden.
Open workouts are typically reserved for main card fighters and veterans. Neither pertains to McGregor, who quickly took the fight world by storm.
He made his UFC debut in April at UFC on Fuel TV 9, defeating Marcus Brimage in 1:07. And those 67 seconds were all fans needed to become enamored. His fighting style is exciting — he attacks early, often and from every angle. He’s also charismatic — he walked into the gym yesterday wearing a sheer light blue button-up, a pair of red skinny jeans, some blue kicks and a big pair of black sunglasses.
Watch McGregor’s UFC debut:
After his opening fight he became an instant celebrity in Ireland, where he is the country’s only UFC competitor. Still, he said he’s been able to stay level-headed.
“It hasn’t really changed too much. I wake up, go get some food and go to the gym. And repeat,” McGregor said. “I try not to let it get to me. It’s as if it’s not even happening. This is another workout for me. If this wasn’t here and these cameras weren’t here, I’d still be talking to you like this. This is just a training session to me in a new gym. I don’t dwell on it too much (and) don’t get caught up in it.”
After his debut win, McGregor was asked if he worried about being fed to the wolves too early in his career. He simply replied, “I’m a wolf.” It’s that type of attitude that attracted White to McGregor.
“I like real fighters,” White said. “I like guys that want to win it and guys that want to finish and guys that just love to fight. That’s what I love about Conor. He’s a great kid, has got an awesome personality and loves to fight. He’s my kind of guy.”
At yesterday’s open workout, McGregor quickly bounced around a ring emblazoned with a shamrock in the middle. He said it’s only fitting that his second fight is here.
“The Boston people are a proud nation and to come here and there are Irish flags everywhere, shamrocks everywhere. It’s like home to me,” McGregor said. “This is as good as it gets for me and I’m looking forward to fight for these people.”
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