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UFC stages historic NY card

UFC 205 Mixed Martial Arts

NEW YORK (AP) – With his mink coat left in the locker room, Conor McGregor is set to take a swing at UFC history.
No metal chair needed.

McGregor, who attempted to use a chair in a violent fashion at a pre-fight press conference, can become the first UFC fighter to hold championship belts in two divisions at the same time.

“It’s never even been close to a reality in this game, in the UFC,” McGregor said. “And then to do it on such a monumental stage like this, of course, this will be one of my shining moments.”

Imagine, McGregor strutting out of Madison Square Garden with two title belts over his shoulder in the same arena where the New York Rangers and New York Knicks aren’t even factors for one championship.

McGregor, boffo at the box office, earned his headline shot at a slice of UFC history once mixed martial arts and New York ended a two-decade fight and legalized the sport.

New York stripped the “no shirt, no shoes, no service” sign down and UFC stormed in with perhaps the most loaded card in the promotion’s history. McGregor fights UFC lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez in the main event of UFC 205 on Saturday night at MSG. Joanna Jedrzejczyk defends the women’s strawweight title against Karolina Kowalkiewicz and UFC welterweight champ Tyron Woodley fights Stephen Thompson.

It’s a card so yuge, so bigly, so terrific and fantastic, that President-elect Donald Trump has told UFC President White he may sit cageside. Seeing Trump at MSG wouldn’t be a surprise; White has talked about their friendship and even spoke at the Republican National Convention in July.

StubHub sold seats no cheaper than $700 as of Friday afternoon and a pair of floor seats could be yours for a cool $30,000.

That’s chump change for the Irish superstar McGregor. He rolled around New York in a custom-made black Rolls Royce Ghost with his “Notorious” nickname and his image emblazoned on the sides.

UFC could never have imagined such an uncomfortable ride toward New York legalization.

UFC worked for years on convincing politicians it made sense to regulate MMA and grant its fighters the opportunity to fight in the same venue as boxing champions like Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Robinson. UFC often thumbed its nose at state lawmakers and held press conferences, fan expos, autograph sessions and meet-and-greets in Manhattan.

UFC ran its biggest cards in the East – including a Super Bowl weekend show in 2014 – roughly 14 miles west of Madison Square Garden at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.

State lawmakers and Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo agreed in April to end the ban. The law authorizing the sport took effect in September.

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