New York, NY—The UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) is currently promoting a major two title event scheduled at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on July 11. The importance of the upcoming fights is attested to by the unique promotional tour currently taking place. Dana White (pictured above), the head of the UFC, told the excited fans present at the Beacon Theater in Manhattan on Thursday, “We’ve never done anything like it, 10 cities and 5 nations in 12 days.” Of the success of the forthcoming UFC card, White said, “This thing is on track to sell out tomorrow [the day tickets went on sale].”
The press conference was not limited to reporters, but was a free fan event. When questions from reporters were exhausted, the public was invited to pose queries to White and the headline fighters of the co-main event in July.
Since MMA bouts are illegal in New York State, many questions concerned White’s feelings on the issue. He responded with words that were encouraging to the fans present, “We love you, New York. Hopefully, we soon really will be in New York. I can’t see it not happening.” He predicted a show will take place at Madison Square Garden in December and additional events will be scheduled throughout the state, not just in New York City.
The participants in the two championship encounters were seated at table on the stage. The headline bout will be the Featherweight Championship (145 lbs.) between the current champ, José Aldo (25-1) of Brazil and the challenger, Ireland’s Conor McGregor (17-2). The co-main event is the Welterweight Championship (170 lbs.) between champion Robbie Lawler (25-10 1 NC) and challenger Rory MacDonald (18-2).
Most of the questions and remarks were directed to McGregor, who was clearly the overwhelming favorite of the crowd within the theater. McGregor appeared amused and encouraged by the many favorable remarks from his fans, and played for their cheers by uttering very confident comments of his ability to easily defeat Aldo, “He [Aldo] better be prepared to die, because I’m prepared to kill…It [the bout] will be done within the first four minutes. I will end his career. I will tear him limb from limb.”
The champion did not allow the remarks of the challenger or his detractors in the audience to make him lose his temper or respond in kind. Aldo expressed his belief that he would win the bout, but did not engage in personal insults, “I’m ready for anything he [McGregor] does or says…They can all talk, but they’ll all fall. I’m going to win and keep the belt…I’m going to go home; he’s going to go home crying and my pocket will be filled with money.”
As they are all professional athletes who began in mixed martial arts as teenagers, money is an important factor. When McGregor was asked what he likes best about the profession, he replied, “the money.”
Both featherweight fighters go into the fight with long winning streaks. Aldo has won 18 straight bouts and McGregor his last 13. Aldo fought for World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) and won its featherweight championship before the two organizations merged in 2010. He was awarded the UFC featherweight title and has successfully defended its championship seven times.
The bout between Lawler and MacDonald is a rematch. The two met on November 16, 2013, with Lawler winning a three round split decision. Both have had recent success, MacDonald won eight of his last nine bouts, his only loss being to Lawler. Lawler was victorious in six of his last seven encounters. MacDonald won the welterweight crown on December 6, 2014 on a five round split decision over Johny Hendricks.
Despite his victory over McDonald in 2013, Lawler praised the challenger, “Rory is a very talented fighter who brings it all to the table. MacDonald blamed his previous loss to his lack of concentration rather than on anything physical. He said, “I’m very comfortable with my skill set. This time, I’m focused 100%.”
After the questions ended, the fighters posed for photos with the children in the theater as enthusiastic adults rushed to the front to take photos as well.