Tonight, Chad Mendes will battle Conor McGregor in one of the biggest fights the UFC has had ever, and it sounds like the latter’s former manager isn’t too surprised.
For several years now, hardcore fans and MMA pundits knew that McGregor was one of Europe’s top prospects. Since McGregor arrived in the UFC in 2013, he’s matched and surpassed that billing. Not only is McGregor set to fight for the interim featherweight belt in his sixth UFC appearance, but he has become one of the top stars in the sport.
Recently McGregor’s former manager, Halli Nelson, spoke to MMA Fighting.com about the fighter and his meteoric rise. Here is some of what he had to say:
“I was always sure that Conor would be a star when he got into the UFC,” Nelson said. “That’s what I told Joe Silva and Sean Shelby when I was writing them. Everybody was predicting this. But if course it’s been very fast. He has embraced the opportunity and put in the work.”
“In a way, it’s surprisingly fast, but it still doesn’t surprise me that he’s a star,” Nelson said. “He was always going to be a star.”
Yup. There’s no doubt that McGregor has become a massive star and in a hurry. Recently UFC boss man Dana White predicted that tonight’s card will surpass UFC 100, which is the promotion’s biggest in terms of PPV sales etc. Sure, some of that is likely because McGregor was going to fight the champ Jose Aldo, but interested certainly hasn’t waned since Mendes was brought in.
It will be interesting to see how the public reacts if McGregor gets taken out by Mendes tonight. There’s no question he’ll remain a big draw, but one would think the buzz tied to “Notorious” won’t be the same.
UFC 189 will be hosted by the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.