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McGregor issues ultimate threat amid NSAC’s costly decision

Conor McGregor reacts as he is announced the winner following his welterweight mixed martial arts bout against Nate Diaz at UFC 202 on Saturday, Aug. 20, 2016, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)
(AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)

The Nevada State Athletic Commission may have really shot itself in the foot this time.

In an attempt to “humble” UFC featherweight champion Conor McGregor following his water bottle-throwing incident opposite Nate Diaz at a UFC 202 pre-fight press conference, NSAC decided to fine the Irishman 5 percent of his $3 million purse — otherwise known as $150,000. A six-figure fine for throwing bottles of water and soft drink cans across a room full of people who wanted nothing more than to see these two engage in some sort of pre-fight confrontation in the final days before they’d be destined to lock themselves inside of a cage with one another.

Half of the fine will go to the state’s general fund, while the remaining 50 percent will be dedicated toward an anti-bullying campaign.

It’s worth noting the original proposal was to have McGregor be fined $300,000, but NSAC chairman Anthony Marnell recognized that would have been ludicrous.

The most recent example of the NSAC flexing its muscles beyond reason, McGregor was quick to flex the incomparable power he has in biceps of his own.

Conor McGregor, arguably the most popular fighter on the planet this side of Ronda Rousey, no longer wants to fight in the state of Nevada.

“Conor McGregor hit me yesterday and said ‘I don’t ever want to fight in Nevada again. Ever.’ Now how does that make sense for the state of Nevada? You’re going to try to fine this kid and Nate that much money; it just makes people not want to come fight in our state. That’s not good,” Dana White said on “The Herd” Wednesday. “And guess what? Conor McGregor doesn’t need Nevada. He could fight anywhere… He could fight in Iowa. He could fight in Iowa, OK? We could put his fight off the coast off anywhere.

“It just makes no sense for the state. It’s just terrible.”

Did McGregor deserve to be punished? Absolutely. Throwing objects across a room of innocent bystanders merits some sort of punishment.

Did McGregor deserve to be fined $150,000? One could make the argument, sure. But the easy answer is no. This becomes especially evident when McGregor, a fighter who regularly makes millions upon millions of dollars every time he steps into the Octagon present day, believes this much money reaches levels of absurdity.

Las Vegas is largely considered the fight capital of the world, and generally plays host to the biggest fights the world can make. Naturally, that logic would result in a majority of McGregor’s fights taking place in Sin City — a trend that has been consistent from the moment the UFC realized it was time for “The Notorious” to begin headlining his own pay-per-view events.

Event  Attendance Gate Buyrate 
UFC 189: Mendes vs. McGregor  16,019 $7,200,000 825,000
UFC 191: Johnson vs. Dodson II 10,873 $1,362,700 115,000
UFC 194: Aldo vs. McGregor 16,516 $10,100,000 1,200,000
UFC 195: Lawler vs. Condit 10,300 $2,003,986 300,000
UFC 196: McGregor vs. Diaz 14,898 $8,100,000 1,600,000
UFC 197: Jones vs. Saint Preux 11,352 $2,300,000 425,000
UFC 200: Tate vs. Nunes 18,202 $10,700,000 1,200,000
UFC 202: Diaz vs. McGregor II 15,539 $7,692,010 1,650,000

Of the eight UFC PPVs that have taken place in Las Vegas since McGregor become a bonafide blockbuster star, the Irishman has headlined four of them. All four of those events rank within the top five Las Vegas PPVs in terms of live gate and overall buyrate. In fact, the lowest of McGregor’s live gates is more than three times greater than the highest of the non-McGregor live gates (excluding UFC 200; but we’ll get to that in a minute), and is surpassed by a total of $4.9 million.

The only non-McGregor PPV that tops the Irishman’s remarkably successful events? UFC 200. But you can’t take the numbers for what they are; not yet.

For one, it took arguably the most stacked fight card of all time to unseat McGregor from his place atop the live gate throne. The UFC’s 200th pay-per-view blockbuster event featured two title fights and seven former champions. The group of fighters in the latter category featured names like former UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva and former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar.

It was built to be the biggest UFC event of all time. UFC 194, the event that takes the silver medal in the battle for live gate supremacy, was not.

Bringing out all the big guns it had at its disposal at the time, the UFC broke McGregor’s live gate record by a sum of $600,000.

The biggest caveat, though? UFC 200 was the first Octagon event to take place at the new T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. That gave the company about 3,000 extra seats to work with; meaning the 18,202 people in attendance couldn’t have possibly fit inside the MGM Grand Garden Arena that McGregor fought in when he welcomed 16,516 people to see him dethrone Jose Aldo at UFC 194.

The average cost per ticket sold for the sold-out Aldo vs. McGregor fight was $611.52. The average for UFC 200 was $587.84.

McGregor, whether he’s fighting for the interim featherweight title, the undisputed featherweight title or fighting for nothing more than pride in a non-title fight at 170 pounds, is one of the two biggest draws in the sport with undoubtedly the most rabid fanbase MMA has ever seen.

An ocean of dedicated fans from Ireland regularly make their way to Las Vegas any and every time McGregor’s name is featured atop a UFC card. A majority of those fans won’t move a muscle for Rousey, Jones, Silva or any other popular name in today’s game.

Quite possibly the biggest piece of ammo in McGregor’s arsenal comes in the form of the entire state of New York. With the Empire State finally having legalized MMA earlier this year, the Irishman now has a brand new playground to showcase his otherworldly skills. With an already-present Irish fanbase in the state of New York, there’s little reason to believe he won’t succeed when competing inside Madison Square Garden.

What’s more, McGregor had already been talking about wanting to fight in New York regularly after his profession was legalized. With a trip from Ireland to New York only being a fraction of what it would be from Ireland to Las Vegas, there couldn’t be a more perfect time to say a permanent farewell to Sin City and all its governmental woes.

 

With what relationships the Nevada State Athletic Commission has with all other statutory regulatory bodies, it’s likely the NSAC commissioners will receive the $150,000 fine. Color that a win.

The aftermath, however, can be looked upon as nothing but the biggest L in NSAC history.

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