It's being reported this morning that Conor McGregor's return to the Octagon is imminent? But is it?
The UFC star hasn't been seen in the Octagon since losing to Khabib Nurmagomedov last October in Las Vegas but, after a long hiatus, the Crumlin fighter posted a cryptic tweet in the early hours of this morning that suggested he may be set for his first fight on home soil since 2014. That assumption may yet prove a little hasty.
Should he return to the cage on home soil the fight is likely to take place in a stadium, and not the 3 Arena. Not only has the 31-year-old grown hugely in popularity since his last fight in Dublin in 2014 which took place at the latter, the venue is already off the cards as 'Mrs Brown's Boys - D'musical' is booked for that night.
Likewise, Leinster are playing Northampton Saints in a Champions Cup clash at the Aviva Stadium that evening.
Dublin, December 14th.
— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) September 16, 2019
Moreover, there is a limit of three concerts a year permitted to take place at Croke Park and given Spice Girls and Westlife have already used up those dates, the UFC may have difficulty obtaining use of the venue. However, it's unclear if a MMA fight would fall into a similar category given it's a sporting event.
The World Meeting of Families, which was attended by the Pope in 2018, obtained a license to host an event at Croke Park even though the permitted licenses were already obtained. But the likely late-night nature of a UFC event would is likely to be an issue for local residents.
Anyway, UFC 245 is already pencilled in for that night in Las Vegas, meaning McGregor's tweet may simply be referring to an event outside the realms of the UFC - such as the launch of his latest business venture whatever that may be.
Esteemed MMA journalist tweeted about the possibility of McGregor fighting Justin Gaethje over the weekend though he pin-pointed next year as a possible date for the bout.
UFC tried to book McGregor vs. Gaethje earlier this summer. Both sides were into it, until McGregor broke his left hand.
That’s the fight to make. Early 2020.
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) September 15, 2019
Additionally, events at stadium venues that late in the year may not be ideal for spectators, especially given the Irish weather at that stage of the year, hence why the majority of outdoor events in stadiums in Ireland take place during the summer.
The UFC previously entertained the idea of bringing major fights to Croke Park in 2016, when UFC vice-president James Elliot claimed it was "on the agenda." He said:
Croke Park and the Aviva Stadium are two places that we’ve looked at, and we’ve made no secret about that.
Conor has certainly made no secret about the fact he wants to fight in Dublin. It’s something that’s on the agenda.
For now, a stadium fight in Dublin remains a long shot.