McGregor’s coronation

by Karl Graham
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CONOR McGregor topped off an excellent year for the MMA star by landing the RTE Sports Person of the Year award for the first time, a significant moment for his sport in its battle for mainstream acceptance.
The Crumlin native becomes just the seventh Dubliner to win the award since its inauguration in 1985, although the decision has not come without its critics. Indeed, the eligibility of MMA to be included on such a list has been questioned, given it is not currently recognised by the Irish Sports Council.
The award is run in association with Sport Ireland and sees the public vote for the winner from a shortlist constructed by selected RTE journalists and editorial staff.
McGregor made UFC history when he defeated Eddie Alvarez via a second round knockout last month to claim the lightweight championship, and become the organisation’s first fighter to hold titles at two different weights.
He has since, due to inactivity, been stripped of the featherweight title that he held previously.
Some quarters had criticised the decision to include McGregor ahead of sports star they perceived to be more deserving but their objection is likely to matter little to McGregor.
Speaking in Los Angeles about the award, the soon-to-be father was in buoyant mood.
“Thank you so much to the fans for voting for me for RTE’s Sports Person of the Year,” he said. “I’m extremely grateful and extremely blessed to have the support of my home country.
“Thank you RTE as well. I’m sorry I couldn’t make the awards ceremony. You know I love to stick on a good suit and roll into these awards ceremonies and collect an award so I’m a little bit upset about that.
“Thank you to the fans, it’s been a hell of a year and I look forward to 2017.”
With recent proclamations that the Dubliner is hoping to lure Floyd Mayweather out of retirement intensifying after he was granted a boxing licence in California, McGregor also took the opportunity to once again insist that moving into the boxing ring is something that he fully intends to carry out.
“I’ve got the boxing licence. His last pay-per-view was 350,000 buys. The fight was a flop, it was a dud. His last two fights have been duds. I certainly don’t need him.
“Of course, the Floyd fight is the fight the public want to see but we’ll see. These things take time.”
McGregor had initially announced that he would be taking a prolonged break from fighting due to his partner Dee Devlin becoming pregnant and her tendency to suffer from nerves when he fights. But he may be back in a ring of some shape sooner than expected.
“As far as the break, I don’t know,” McGregor said. “Originally I thought the baby was being born in March and then it was May so maybe I could get in another [fight]. I just don’t know. I’m weighing up my options.”

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