UFC Exec: Bringing Conor McGregor Back to Ireland a Goal But ‘Very, Very Complicated’

By: Tristen Critchfield
Nov 21, 2016
While the Ultimate Fighting Championship has traveled to Ireland to hold an event for three consecutive years, bringing back the nation’s signature star could prove difficult in the future.

Reigning lightweight and featherweight champion — and Dublin native — Conor McGregor was in attendance at UFC Fight Night Belfast in Belfast on Saturday, cheering on SBG Ireland teammates Artem Lobov and Charlie Ward in their bouts at the SSE Arena. The “Notorious” one is only a week removed from becoming the first simultaneous two-division champion in UFC history and is well established as the top star in the Las Vegas-based promotion.

Before he reached that point, McGregor spearheaded the UFC’s 2014 journey to Ireland, as he stopped Diego Brandao via first-round TKO in the UFC Fight Night 46 headliner at the O2 in Dublin. That fight provided one of the most electric atmospheres in recent memory. However, it is unclear when McGregor could return to fight in his homeland.

“We’re working through all the different possibilities with Conor,” said James Elliott, the UFC vice president and managing director for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. “There’s a number of things up in the air at the moment. I know it’s something that we’ve made no secret about the fact that we’d love to get it done. He’s gone on to such success that it’s something he’s keen to try and get done as well.”

At the moment, McGregor is in no rush to return to the Octagon. He has already indicated that he won’t fight until after his girlfriend gives birth to the couple’s first child in May. And given his current star power, negotiations could extend beyond that point, as McGregor has already hinted that he will be seeking an ownership stake as part of a restructured contract.

Not all that long ago, a stadium show at Croke Park in Dublin featuring McGregor was discussed, but a number of logistical issues put those plans on hold. However, the Irishman could be fighting in a number of different venues, as he recently said he would no longer fight in Las Vegas after being fined $150,000 for his part in a water bottle throwing incident ahead of UFC 202. His most recent appearance, the lightweight title winning victory at UFC 205, occurred as part of the promotion’s much-hyped New York City debut. At this point, any card topped by McGregor is going to have to be a blockbuster event.

“It’s very, very complicated to try and bring him back, particularly to Dublin,” Elliott said. “But it’s something we’ll always try and figure out the best way to get it done that we can. We’re working on it.”

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