Two years ago today, the UFC held a press conference to promote the biggest events and fights on their 2015 fall/winter schedule. They called it ‘Go Big’. Then just the interim featherweight champion, Conor McGregor paid heed to the instruction implicit within that title and hijacked the presser, turning it into a rip-roaring one-man show.
The stage was littered with champions and big names. Ronda Rousey, then the UFC women’s bantamweight champion and considered the promotion’s top star, sat across the platform to McGregor’s right, on the opposite side of the lectern. To her left was the man who had reigned as world featherweight champion for almost six years, Jose Aldo. To her right, the sensational women’s strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Seated at the end of that table was light-heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier. Behind them sat former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar and then 155-pound kingpin Rafael dos Anjos. The popular Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone sat behind McGregor, as did the Irishman’s previous opponent Chad Mendes. To Conor’s left, sat the former world boxing champion and a woman who was on the verge of shocking the world, Holly Holm. Vitor Belfort, Dan Henderson, Luke Rockhold, Kelvin Gastelum, Dustin Poirier, Valerie Letourneau, Roy Nelson, Josh Barnett, Matt Brown, Alexander Gustafsson and Joseph Duffy also sat before the media.
It was a glittering cast, but most were reduced to mere props by the motor-mouthed McGregor’s pro-wrestling style verbal performance once the show got started.
Dos Anjos, Cerrone and Mendes in particular provided regular set-ups for the SBG fighter’s punchlines. While one of McGregor’s many rants, directed at Dos Anjos, coined a phrase that would soon become a regularly used alternative to ‘money fight’ in the MMA lexicon – ‘red panty night’.
This was self-promotion and trash-talk at its finest, but had McGregor proved incapable of walking the walk against Aldo months later, the ‘Go Big’ performance would perhaps be the subject of ridicule today – a display of hubris before an almighty fall. Instead, he flattened Aldo in 13 seconds, and we now look back on the presser as another key event in ‘The Notorious’ one’s rise to superstardom.
Check out the highlights of the presser below…