According to a Sept. 27 report from MMA Fighting, thousands of MMA fans flew in from Ireland for Conor McGregor’s UFC 178 fight with Dustin Poirier. McGregor, 26, is easily the UFC’s most marketable young superstar, and he’s especially popular with fight fans from Ireland. McGregor recently competed at a UFC event in Ireland, and UFC President Dana White says it was the loudest fan response he’s ever witnessed in person.
The ridiculous fan response for McGregor was just as intense for the UFC 178 weigh-ins. Fight fans clamored to get a close look at him, and he was hounded for autographs and photo ops after the event. Curiously enough, his fight with Poirier won’t be featured in the UFC 178 main event. McGregor versus Poirier didn’t earn the nod for the UFC 178 co-main, either.
So what gives? First of all, it is UFC policy to put title fights in the main event, no matter what. Never in company history have they made an exception to the rule, so they weren’t about to knock Demetrious Johnson vs. Chris Cariaso out of the UFC 178 main event to make room for McGregor vs. Poirier. Doing so would be disrespectful to Johnson, the UFC’s longest-running champ in the flyweight division.
But an argument could be made that McGregor vs. Poirier should have at least been featured in the UFC 178 co-main. It was clear at the UFC 178 weigh-in that McGregor was the main draw on the card. Hundreds of flag-waving Irish fans gave McGregor the rock star treatment during the UFC 178 weigh-ins, while co-main event athletes Donald Cerrone and Eddie Alvarez received tame responses in comparison.
Again, this appears to be a case of the UFC not wanting to alienate one of their top company men in Cerrone. Alvarez will be making his UFC debut, but Cerrone has been with the company for years. The UFC apparently wanted to give him the co-main nod just because he has turned in some spectacular performances over the years in the UFC cage.
McGregor vs. Poirier is clearly the fight fans are most excited for. McGregor is currently ranked close to the top 10 at featherweight, so he’s perhaps just one or two fights away from a world title shot. As for Poirier, he’ll be looking to put a stop to the hype train surrounding McGregor. Poirier is no joke and he shouldn’t be overlooked. He’s currently ranked in the top five at featherweight.
Elsewhere on the UFC 178 main card, Cat Zingano battles Amanda Nunes in women’s bantamweight action. White says that if Zingano wins, she’ll receive a title shot against Ronda Rousey. The pay-per-view portion of UFC 178 also features a clash between Tim Kennedy and Yoel Romero. UFC 178 went down on Sept. 27 at the MGM Grand Garden Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nev. It was easily the most-hyped UFC event of the year.