Two-weight UFC champion Conor McGregor has given his full backing to the upcoming pro career of Belfast star Mick Conlan.
‘The Notorious’ was in the Titanic City for an event at the Devenish Complex on Friday, where he was reacquainted with Conlan – whom he has struck up a friendship with this past year.
During the night, McGregor accepted a request from Conlan to carry the Irish flag into the ring on his pro debut at Madison Square Garden on St Patrick’s Day, and the mixed martial artist also had some kind words for the Top Rank super bantamweight
“I’m very excited for your pro career, I can’t wait to see it unfold,” McGregor told Conlan.
“I’ve no doubt Michael, you’re a solid, solid boxer. You are skilled boxers down here [Belfast]. You’ve got good backing, and the sky’s the limit for you and I look forward to following your career. The sky is the limit, you just have to stay focused.”
“I don’t have to tell you to train hard. You’re hard worker and a successful amateur boxer and you’re climbing into the pro ranks. I don’t have to sit here and say ‘hey kid, hit the bag three times a week.’ You go in and you be yourself, get that win, and then there’s no stopping you.”
“So you just keep your head down, stay working, take no prisoners in there. I just have to tell you to go out and be yourself, take no shit. That’s the main thing, take no prisoners. Let the whole division you’re in know what you’re coming to do, then go out and follow what you’ve said, go and do it, and the rest falls into place.”
“You stuck the finger up, you were who you were around your own people. That’s the way to be. Be who you are, let the fighting in you come out.”
McGregor, arguably the biggest sports star in Ireland at the moment, predicts a similar level of fame for Conlan, and forewarned him that it will be a sudden elevation. He recalled how “it’s almost like you can’t crack it, and then sort of it just happens. You don’t even notice it happening. This just happens overnight. You go from being in the gym not being recognised and then you can’t walk down the street. It just happens.”
While most feel that the mooted fight between McGregor and five-weight boxing champion Floyd Mayweather Jr [49(26)-0] will never happen, McGregor, who took out a boxing license with the California State Athletic Commission this week, promised Conlan a spot on the undercard if such a fight were to take place. He told the 25 year old that “I’m with you all the way, and I told you this before, but depending on how this boxing licence thing goes, whether it’s Floyd [Mayweather] or whether it’s not, or whether it’s one of those high guys up there – I’ll be organising the card, I’ll be organising the undercard, and I’ll do exactly what I done for the Irish in the UFC.”
“I’ll kick down that door, I’ll get them in, I’ll give them that break. That’s something I’m planning on doing.”