Conor McGregor og Rafael Dos Anjos er bekreftet for UFC 197.
Of all the fighters that Conor McGregor reduced to ash during the UFC’s "Go Big" media conference back in September, Rafael dos Anjos was perhaps the most memorable. That little exchange between McGregor and the lightweight champion was the very reason the Irish showed up in Vegas shooting red panties from their fingers like rubber bands for his fight with Jose Aldo.
You might remember that RDA was merely answering a hypothetical about defending his lightweight belt against McGregor, when suddenly…
"Because I can make you rich," McGregor sang out into the microphone, as everyone else at the telethon swore him into an early grave under their breaths. "I’ll change your bum life. You fight me it’s a celebration. When you sign to fight me it’s a celebration. You ring back home, you ring your wife, ‘baby we done it — we're rich, baby! Conor McGregor made us rich! Break out the red panties! We're rich baby.’ So don't say you would not take that fight because you would take that fight like everyone else up here would take the fight against me if it was offered regardless of belts or any of that shit. I’m the money fight. So f*ck everybody else up here."
If it felt like the shrug-off of a master blowhard at the time, it didn’t feel that way three months later when he dusted Aldo with a left hand in 13 seconds on a massive pay-per-view, just like he forecasted he would.
And things got particularly interesting when RDA blasted through Donald Cerrone a week later at UFC on FOX 17 in Orlando. Suddenly, the window was open for McGregor to give Dos Anjos the celebration he promised. Of all the fighters vying for the shot to face McGregor next — Nate Diaz, Frankie Edgar, even poor Max Holloway, all alone out there on the outer rim — RDA pulled the winning ticket. The thing is, he has the additional gold that McGregor covets. What McGregor wants, McGregor gets.
And just as McGregor predicted for both parties, the word that comes to mind is ka-ching.
News came down on Thursday night that McGregor will face Dos Anjos for the lightweight title at UFC 197 in March. This is remarkable for a couple of reasons. For starters, the UFC was reluctant to allow McGregor to move up without ceding the featherweight strap he’s not yet defended. Yet less than a month after that declaration, McGregor gets to pack his featherweight belt in his carry on for his trip to Vegas. "Mystic Mac" is making the UFC dance to his own pistol fire. If you’ve been around this game at all, you know that’s…unusual.
Then there’s the fight itself, which is an all-you-can-eat buffet of pure significance. The last fighter to attempt what McGregor is doing was then-lightweight champion B.J. Penn, who challenged Georges St-Pierre for his welterweight crown at UFC 94 in 2009. That fight, dubbed "super" because belts were colliding, was a reunion, though. It had a back-story. Penn and GSP fought at UFC 58, with St-Pierre coming away with a split-decision victory (when it was over GSP went to the hospital while Penn to the bar, and all that…).
This one? This one feels like the next leg in McGregor’s hostile takeover, just the next escalation point for a man-turned-meteor flashing through the ranks of history. It’s a little impossible, what McGregor’s doing, and at speeds the game has never been asked to keep up with. Yet nobody is going to tell McGregor what is possible right now. He is skewing reality to his own master plan — devised in grandeur, exhibited in public, lived through vicariously by fans and haters alike — and that makes him a modern day fairytale. Subconsciously the feeling is to ride sidecar with him through it all, for as long as the delirium will last.
How far can "Mystic Mac" take this thing?
Well, the next stop is Dos Anjos, who in 2014 knocked Anthony Pettis off the Wheaties box with a preternatural pace, and never gave Donald Cerrone a sliver of hope. RDA is a hell of a place drag a dictatorship through. Yet that, too, becomes compelling. You’ve got to admire McGregor for taking every fight that seems like a bad idea. McGregor wants to take them all on, which is — for lack of a better way of putting it — a satisfactory way to be. And if you believe McGregor, Frankie Edgar, the odd man out at featherweight, is next next. McGregor wouldn’t have insisted on keeping his belt if he didn’t intend on coming back.
No, right now McGregor is yelling "pull!" and he’s shooting every clay pigeon that crosses the sky. His sky. That type of attitude, and thus far the ability to back it up, fills in his audacity.
Break out the red panties.
The McGregor-RDA mega-fight is just two months away. It’s a damn good one. Dos Anjos can end a mystic’s narrative as quick as he can get his hands on you. And he better be quick — he has to be. McGregor is operating at such warp speeds right now, both in and out of the cage, that it’s hard to call him a fool before the words find their way back to whoever is saying it.
That’s McGregor, who can’t help but go big.