Conor McGregor's incredible win over Jose Aldo has left punters asking one question - when is the UFC returning to Dublin?
Although Dana White estimates that almost 5,000 tickets for the fight were been purchased in Ireland, Irish numbers were slightly down for the Aldo fight, with the costs of travelling to Vegas twice in six months largely responsible. Following the astounding victory Sunday morning, there will be a growing clamour to host his title defence in Dublin. With his popularity far exceeding the capacity of the 3Arena, the next logical step would be for McGregor to headline an event in a much larger venue. There are two obvious venues that spring to mind: the Aviva Stadium and Croke Park.
This is undoubtedly McGregor's ambition. As soon as he had beaten Diego Brandao in Dublin in 2014, McGregor said ringside that all he wanted to talk about nothing but "football stadiums and world titles" from henceforth. The UFC have been similarly receptive to the idea. UFC Executive Vice President Gary Cook spoke last year that talks had taken place regarding the possibility of hosting the McGregor/Aldo fight in on of Dublin's largest stadia, saying that "Conor is an athlete who is capturing the imagination of the Irish public and the prospect of hiring a huge outdoor stadium to stage a fight that will put him and the sport on the map is exciting all of us". While hope of the Aldo fight taking place in Dublin fell through, the ambition certainly remains.
The stadiums get bigger. The vision gets clearer. UFC in the Aviva? @email@example.com/rd7LqDsAue
— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) August 12, 2014
The Aviva seems the most likely destination for the fight, with Betfair offering odds of 1/3 for the event to be at the old Lansdowne Road.
McGregor's ideal outcome, however, is for a world title defence to take place in Ireland's largest stadium, Croke Park. It's McGregor's dream to fight in Croker, and most importantly, the GAA are receptive to the idea. Stadium Director Peter McKenna said that "Conor McGregor is clearly an outstanding athlete, it’s great to see his success on the international stage and we’d be very pleased to host the event, if that’s their wish.” Before the fight, odds of MMA being the sixth non-GAA sport to be played at Croke Park are at an attractive 15/8 with Betfair.
McGregor is not the only sportsman who has spoken of an ambition to fight at Croke Park. World Heavyweight Champion Tyson Fury says that he aims to host a rematch with Wladimir Klitschko at Jones' Road. Betfair consider McGregor the strong favourite to beat Fury to the Croke Park lights: McGregor is at 1/5 to fight at Croke Park ahead of Fury, with Fury at 7/2 to beat McGregor to become a headline act at GAA HQ. A couple of things in Fury's favour may be the fact that boxing has a history of being staged at Croke Park - Muhammad Ali fought at Jones' Road in 1972 - and the fact that his rematch with Klitschko is likely to be staged early next year, before McGregor fights again.