The Champ Can Do What He Wants
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The Champ Can Do What He Wants

How Conor McGregor became UFC's biggest star.

2014 in Dublin, Ireland, Conor McGregor grabbed the mic and the fight game by the throat.

"We are not here to take part, we are here to take over!"

The stadium erupted in a sea of green, white, and orange. One thing was for certain. McGregor was not lying. It's 2017 and Conor McGregor is Sports Illustrated Fighter of the year, along with being the first ever UFC champ in two weight divisions, the record holder for highest gate and pay per view buys and a very rich man (estimated well over $25,000,000)

Consider this: Conor McGregor drew TWICE as many buys in one year than the ENTIRE UFC in 2014. Things are only looking up for the celtic superstar.

With Ronda Rousey's latest loss and pending retirement, McGregor will unquestionably become the sole icon that is the UFC today. He is 28 years young and relatively unweathered physically.

McGregor's success has launched him into another stratosphere of popularity. He now represents a company that has been forever dominated by American fighters. The pride of the Irish culture has been revitalized. Can you name another fighter or athlete for that matter from Ireland that has been able to dominate his/her sport the way we've seen McGregor? Don't worry, I'll wait!

Unfortunately for the UFC, McGregor has many lucrative opportunities tugging at him in different directions. He is apparently set to star in the remaining two seasons of Game of Thrones. The movie roles and endless endorsements man pull the attention away from the fight game and eventually onto the big screen.

The sport of unarmed combat may have to take a back seat. But can you blame him? When you have the success and personality of Conor McGregor, you call the shots!

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What To Watch For in Sports This Week (8/29)

The GREATEST Opening Week In College Football History

The college football season has begun and it is GLORIOUS! When ESPN keeps saying that this is the greatest opening week in college football history, they mean it. There's a lot of great ranked matchups, not just on Saturday, but on Sunday's marquee matchup as well.

But don't worry, if football isn't your thing (seriously what is wrong with you?), there's other sports to keep you busy for the week, including one of Tennis' Grand Slam Tournaments, the US Open. We're quickly approaching the end of the baseball season, with some great divisional games coming up and the Wild Card races heating up even more.

Here is what to watch for in sports this week:

Monday, August 29
MLB: Seattle Mariners vs Texas Rangers (ESPN, 8 p.m. ET)
Seattle IS still a few games behind in the Wild Card standings, while the Rangers look to be a lock to win American League West and have the best record in the league. The Mariners are struggling, having lost 6 of their past 10 games and they need to win a lot in order to stand a chance of making it into October. Probable starters are Yu Darvish (Rangers) and Hisashi Iwakuma (Mariners).

Tuesday, August 30
MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates vs Chicago Cubs (MLB Network, 8:05 p.m. ET)
The Pirates are getting hot at the right time, having won their last four games entering play on Monday and are just half a game behind the second Wild Card in the National League. The Cubs, meanwhile, have righted the ship from their midseason slump and have pretty much made their case as the best team in baseball. They have the best record and best run differential by an insane margin (the team with the second closest run differential is still behind by an 82 run difference). Probable starters are Chad Kuhl (Pirates) and Kyle Hendricks (Cubs).

Thursday, September 1
College Football: Charlotte vs #19 Louisville (ESPN3, 7 p.m. ET)
Charlotte has no chance of winning (well, ESPN gives Charlotte a one percent chance of winning, but you get my point), so why even watch it? Other than not being interested in the US Open, it's simply for the sheer fact that you will see a blowout of comedic proportions. Some betting spreads have Louisville as 40 POINT FAVORITE!!! Seriously, you probably will have a great time just watching how much the Charlotte players are trying to play keep up.

Saturday, September 3
College Football: #3 Oklahoma vs #15 Houston (ABC, 12 p.m. ET)
Houston burst onto the scene last year with a 13-1 record and a top 10 finish in the final AP rankings. Hosting a team with college football playoff aspirations like Oklahoma and going up against a legitimate Heisman Trophy hopeful in quarterback Baker Mayfield should provide the ultimate test for Houston. It is the first of so many great games on this Saturday.

UFC: UFC Fight Night 93: Arlovski vs Barnett (UFC Fight Pass, 3 p.m. ET)
To sorta break the cycle of college football during the day, or if you're not into football (again, what's wrong with you?), UFC is holding an online-only card from Germany and the main event features former UFC Heavyweight Champion Josh Barnett against Andrei Arlovski, a man whose nicknamed is "Pitbull" and looks like he would want to rip your arms from their socket. Don't take it from me, here is just a sample of Arlovski beating people up. Needless to say, it's going to be a good fight.

College Football: #18 Georgia vs #22 North Carolina (ESPN, 5:30 p.m. ET)
Expectations at Georgia are going to be very high now that new head coach Kirby Smart is in town. A lot of people think that the Bulldogs are going to run over North Carolina, but the Tar Heels showed major signs of improvement on both sides of the ball last year. They went from having a losing record in 2014 to finishing 11-3 in 2015. Add in the fact that this is Smart's first game as the Bulldogs' head coach (and against a ranked opponent, at that) and this could be a close one.

College Football: #20 USC vs #1 Alabama (ABC, 9 p.m. ET)
Almost everybody thinks Alabama is heading to the playoffs this year, but USC is trying to get back into the public's mind in the post-Pete Carroll era. They are two of the most historically dominant programs in college football history set to kickoff in less than a week. It's either a big upset, or Alabama resumes the dynasty talk with a strong statement win over the Trojans.

Sunday, September 4
College Football: #10 Notre Dame vs Texas (ABC, 7:30 p.m. ET)
Notre Dame blew the doors off of Texas last year and the Fighting Irish are looking to replicate that same success this time around. While they're ranked in the top 10, no one has seriously considered them as a national championship contender in a long time, except a few years ago, and we know how that turned out: a 42-14 beatdown at the hands of Alabama in the 2013 BCS National Championship game.

All-week Events
US Tennis Open (ESPN Family of Networks)
While not exactly as historic as Wimbledon, it is the last relevant tennis tournament of the year. After the Olympics, we have a new star in women's tennis by the name of Monica Puig, a Puerto Rican who won the country's first ever gold medal in the Olympics this year by defeating the second ranked tennis player in the world. For the men, there are still the big stars, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray who are the big contenders in this tournament. So basically, YAY TENNIS!

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A Parting Glass for McGregor?

There's no way he's really done, right?

Yesterday, UFC star Conor McGregor shockingly announced his early retirement just over two months before UFC 200, which would be the sport's biggest event to date. Not only that, but McGregor was slated for a rematch with Nate Diaz, who recently handed McGregor his first ever UFC loss on March 5th. Here is McGregor's message:

A day late, and I'm still skeptical. I mean, there's so many questions to ask: Why? Why now? Why before the biggest event in your sport's history? Why before you get the chance to rematch Diaz?

Is it because you think you're going to lose?


Yeah, right. It's no secret that McGregor loves 3 things: fighting, talking shit, and money. In any interview he gives, he'll definitely tell you how he's going to win, it'll be a first round knockout, and how he's going to make millions doing it.

My theory? It's always, always, ALWAYS all about the money. In an interview with ESPN yesterday, UFC president Dana White said, "Conor did not want to come to Las Vegas and film the commercial, or be a part of any marketing we have. He's in Iceland training, and that's not possible.... He felt leaving right now would hurt his training, and getting ready for this fight."

I think that's a little bit of BS from UFC. There are other rumors regarding McGregor wanted more money than UFC was willing to put on the table. I think once UFC said no to more money, McGregor decided to "retire" as leverage. He's the face of the sport, and knows that he is who people want to see. By retiring, McGregor's middle finger is up and aimed directly at Dana White. Your move, UFC.


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The UFC 200 Drinking Game

As well as a preview, but we know you're here for the booze.

UFC 200 is this Saturday, July 9 and people are extremely excited, to say the least. The cad, from top to bottom, is the most stacked in its company's history. With two championship fights, the return of Brock Lesnar and a bunch of other great fights, it's an MMA fan's wet dream come to life.

Gross, I know.

However, UFC will now be on the world stage with a dark cloud hanging above its head. An event celebrating the company and the sport's meteoric rise to global prominence is now marred by controversy as Jon Jones was pulled from the UFC 200 main event versus Daniel Cormier.

This is due to a possible anti-doping violation from the USADA. That fight would have been for the Undisputed UFC Light Heavyweight Championship.

It is just the next chapter of a dark aspect of UFC, that many of their fighters have failed drug tests, including stars such as Nate Diaz, Alistair Overeem, Antonio Silva and now possibly Jones.

So without further ado, here is the preview on the main card, what to know and a nice drinking game, because let's face it, if you're going to watch this, there will be alcohol involved.

Cain Velasquez vs Travis Browne
Velazquez hasn't fought in more than a year and that was a loss to Fabricio Werdum for the Heavyweight Championship. Velazquez is still one of the best heavyweights in the world and this is a fight that solidifies his standing in the division en route to his rematch with Werdum.

Browne on the other hand, is a big, hulking fighter who has never had a realistic shot at the UFC Heavyweight Championship. He holds an 18-3-1 MMA record and owns wins over Brendan Schaub, current No. 3 ranked Alistair Overeem, and No. 8 Josh Barnett. A win over Velazquez could propel him to a title shot.

Jose Aldo vs Frankie Edgar for the Interim Featherweight Championship
This fight is a rematch from their 2013 Featherweight championship bout in which Ado retained in a highly competitive fight. Now after Aldo lost his belt to Conor McGregor, he has been on a mission to try and recapture championship gold.

Since losing to Aldo, Edgar has yet to lose a fight and won those fights in impressive fashion. He has the ability to dominate opponents with quick and heavy hitting offense. While this is a fight for an interim title, expect the winner to try and challenge McGregor for an undisputed title match after he finishes his business with Nate Diaz.

Miesha Tate vs Amanda Nunez for the UFC Women's Bantamweight Title
Pretty much, whoever wins this fight is going to probably fight Ronda Rousey and Holly Holm, the woman who beat Rousey, in 2017. Miesha Tate is a veteran in women's mixed martial arts and the current champion.

Nunez is not a household name among MMA fans, but she has racked up an impressive resume: a 12-4 MMA record with a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and is currently the No. 4 ranked woman in the official UFC women's bantamweight rankings.

This may not be the Rousey-Holm rematch we all wanted, but this is still a pretty good fight with plenty of action.

Brock Lesnar vs Mark Hunt
Brock Lesnar is a WWE Superstar who also happens to be the former UFC Heavyweight Champion. To explain the nuances of why he is fighting here in UFC on this site for a third time is redundant, so read my piece on it here. As for how he'll do, it's anyone's guess. Lesnar says that he is in the best shape of his life but five years from the octagon is a long time and he's facing Mark Hunt.

Hunt is a knockout artist who owns wins against heavyweight greats Frank Mir and Antonio Silva. This is more of an attraction match than a fight to decide future rankings in the division but expect Hunt to try and knock Lesnar out quickly. Lesnar, meanwhile will try and used his vast experience in amateur mat wrestling to try and wear him down.

Drinking Game for UFC 200 (This applies to the prelims, too, if you are watching them)
-Drink every time that crowd goes "Ohhhhh!!!" for a vicious strike
-Down your drink for a Ronda Rousey or CM Punk appearance (this counts for commercials too)
-Drink for every time UFC 201 is mentioned
-Drink for every mention of wrestling and WWE.
-Down your drink if they mention Velazquez losing the Heavyweight title in his last fight.
-Drink every time Joe Rogan yells "OH MY GOODNESS!"
-Drink every time a broadcaster says "HERE WE GO!"
-Down you drink if a fight ends in a Knockout.
-Waterfall your drink whenever someone has his/her opponent in a hold on the floor.

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Why The McGregor/Mayweather Fight WILL Happen

It's going to be the biggest fight of all time.

Conor McGregor has recently cancelled his meet-and-greet event in Dublin to make an impromptu trip to Las Vegas. Business is calling, and perhaps Floyd "Money" Mayweather is on the line.

The two have traded trash talk for months now and the intent for a fight is definitely there. Everyone and their mother wants to see this fight. All that is left to discuss is contract obligations.

Why this fight will happen:
Floyd Mayweather is 49-0 and arguably the greatest boxer of all time and Conor McGregor is currently the biggest star the UFC has ever seen. Mayweather's net worth is $400 million dollars, which means he never has to fight again if he doesn't want to. His life is comfortable to say the least, but when an opportunity to make money presents itself, "Money-May" never shies away.

McGregor is the cash cow of the UFC and has almost grown bigger than the sport itself. McGregor has said the next time he steps into a ring it will be against Mayweather. Floyd has said the only fight to bring him out of retirement would be a boxing match with McGregor. It would be a nightmare for both parties if this potential bout slipped through the cracks.

Why this fight is so interesting:
Mayweather would come into the fight the heavy favorite. A win would make his record a clean 50-0. For boxing enthusiasts, this fight is a no-brainer for Mayweather. He could toy with McGregor for as long as he wanted, take no damage, and put on a clinic.

For die hard McGregor fans, this fight could be closer than expected. McGregor poses an unorthodox style for Mayweather. He is a naturally a bigger and stronger man. Father time is also not on Mayweather's side. McGregor is 28 years old and in his early prime, while Floyd is approaching 40 years old.

Regardless of your prediction, this fight would glue every UFC and boxing fan to the television. The Mayweather/Pacquiao fight currently holds the record for most pay-per-view buys at 4.4 million, generating 400 million dollars in TV revenue alone. I believe the intrigue in this fight could generate over 5 million pay-per-view buys, breaking all records to date.

The UFC needs to find a way to generate income after selling the company for 4 billion dollars to the WME-IMG group. Boxing is slowly becoming a dying sport because of lack of star power, which has become evident over the past few years. The McGregor/Mayweather fight can be a short-term solution to both problems.

If egos don't burn the bridges, we could see the most anticipated fight ever between the baddest men in mixed martial arts and boxing. McGregor predicts the fight to occur in 2017 or early 2018. Until then, the public will be waiting with their fingers crossed.

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UFC 205 in New York Is a Huge Deal

Having it in the Big Apple was so important.

Saturday night saw the UFC 205 pay-per-view event take place at Madison Square Garden in New York City. UFC featherweight champion Conor McGregor made history of his own, defeating Eddie Alvarez to win the UFC lightweight championship. He became the first-ever fighter in UFC history to hold two divisions' title belts simultaneously.

The rest of the card -- including the preliminary bouts on UFC Fight Pass and Fox Sports 1 -- was filled with star power. It was a dream card to a UFC fan, more than UFC 200's ended up being.

But for those who aren't as big of UFC fans, you may not understand why the promotion went all out for this event. You may not understand why this was the first-ever UFC event in New York City, and the history that goes with that. And on that note, you may not understand the true evolution of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

Well, fear not, Sports Media Man Tom is here.

The first UFC event was held 23 years to the date that UFC finally debuted in Madison Square Garden. Unlike MMA cards now, the event just consisted of an eight-man tournament -- no weight limit, no uniform restrictions, nothing of that sort. The only thing a fighter could not do is bite or gouge the eyes. Other than that, just score a knockout, submission, or have the other fighter's cornermen throw in the towel.

The UFC was less "sports-looking" then it is now. There were many questions of which fighting style was best (i.e. what would happen if a judoka met a boxer, or a wrestler met a jiu-jitsu expert?) Non-tournament singles bouts weren't introduced until UFC 5, and weight classes in its earliest form weren't introduced until UFC 12.

The sport in it's earliest form caught the attention of several authorities, including one particular senator named John McCain.

McCain led a campaign to get the sport banned across the nation (it did in a just about 40 states), calling it "human cockfighting".

The UFC was not always banned in the state of New York. They held UFC 7 in Buffalo on Sept. 8, 1995, and UFC 12 was originally booked for New York City. The night before the event, however, the ban went into effect in the state, forcing the UFC to relocate quickly. Imagine your professor telling you to re-organize your whole paper on 24 hours notice, or your boss telling you to travel to another location after you've already made your way to wherever (s)he wanted you to go to originally.

The UFC would not go back to the Northeast until New Jersey finally standardized a set of rules for MMA to become more sport-like, and these rules would become the unified MMA rules all fans of the sport know, and Mike Goldberg reads off during every show he does.

Over the years, more and more states would approve of the sport. After Connecticut legalized Mixed Martial Arts in October 2013, New York was left as the only state to have not made the way for MMA.

Did it follow suit after Connecticut? Nope! It would take another two-and-a-half years before it did. Every time an MMA bill would pass in the Senate, it would fall in the Assembly. Every time, New York MMA fans' hopes of seeing a card in the Garden were crushed.

SOURCE: (2013)

But one day this past spring, after a huge campaign with the likes of UFC fighters Chris Weidman, Frankie Edgar and Jon Jones, and of course UFC President Dana White, it finally happened.

We've gone from UFC 1, to a banning of the sport across the nation, to every state but New York legalizing MMA, and finally UFC 205 in Madison Square Garden. As someone who is a New Yorker and has followed the sport since the debut of The Ultimate Fighter, the original season that produced one of the greatest MMA bouts of all time in Forrest Griffin vs. Stephan Bonnar, I'm so hyped.

Honestly, if you're still looking to get into the UFC fandom, order the replay for UFC 205. It might be the best place to start. It's filled with star power, so you'd get to know quite a few of the big name fighters and what makes them so great. From Conor McGregor's trash talking to Ronda Rousey's armbars to the one-punch knockout power of all the heavyweights.

Not all the fights were perfect. Maybe you felt the women's strawweight title fight was boring, while someone else may think it was great. Maybe you disagreed with the draw result in the welterweight title match.

But mark the date down. Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016, was an amazing night to be a UFC fan.