Conor McGregor may be facing questions over his fighting credentials heading into his trilogy with Dustin Poirier, but the Irishman remains as popular as ever with fans – as evidenced by the reception he received in California.
McGregor and Poirier face off in a third instalment of their seven-year rivalry at UFC 264 next Saturday.
With the scores tied at 1-1, the winner of the contest at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas will earn outright bragging rights – as well as a shot at the UFC lightweight title currently owned by Brazil’s Charles Oliveira.
Poirier put McGregor away in brutal fashion in their last meeting in January, although The Notorious has vowed to learn his lesson from that defeat and suggesting he already has Poirier and his octagon tactics “sussed” before their third encounter.
The main event contest is set to further solidify McGregor’s status as the biggest draw in MMA – and the pandemonium which greeted his appearance at a restaurant in Newport Beach on Saturday night was further testament to that.
Leaving after dinner, McGregor was met by a mob of fans desperate to catch a glimpse of the 32-year-old star.
“Jesus Christ, look at this,” says McGregor into the camera as he makes his way out the waiting crowd.
McGregor obliged by waving to fans and breaking into some impromptu shadowboxing before departing in one of his fleet of luxury cars, filming the scenes himself on his phone.
conor mcgregor !!! At Newport Beach pic.twitter.com/M5tV9XBy3E
— Medina (@Cdrizzlle) July 4, 2021
The United States Of America 🇺🇸
What a country ❤️ pic.twitter.com/iQNqie9GOr
— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) July 4, 2021
— Scott Fenton (@ScottFenton01) July 4, 2021
“Wow, that was incredible… I’m on the wrong side of the road here, look at this,” said McGregor as he carried on his way, adding: “America, happy 4th of July, what a country. That was a mad scene!”
The Irishman’s social media game is as strong as ever ahead of his bout with Poirier, but the lingering question for many is whether the fighting fire still burns as strongly as it once did for McGregor, given the nine-figure fortune he has amassed through his business empire.
McGregor has been as bold as ever in his pre-fight talk though, stating on Twitter: “3 fights against me for any man is an early grave. God bless.”
“He talks some amount lately,” McGregor said separately of his rival. “He’s going to pay for that, that’s for sure. That’s not going to be nice.”
3 fights against me for any man is an early grave. God bless 🙏
— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) July 2, 2021
Poirier, meanwhile, has fired back at McGregor’s suggestions that any takedown attempts would somehow diminish the contest.
“Isn’t he the one whose always preaching about the flow, the full martial arts, no holds barred, no rules, the ultimate fighting, when he’s talking about boxing and stuff, right?” Poirier said.
“How about the first one to get taken down is a dusty b*tch? This is mixed martial arts. Put it all together. It reeks of insecurity to me.”