clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Report: Residents could oppose 'brutal and violent' Conor McGregor fight at Croke Park

New, comments
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Get used to seeing Conor McGregor fight in Las Vegas.

Residents of the area surrounding Irish stadium Croke Park are not keen on huge events there. They nixed five sell-out Garth Brooks concerts last year that were already scheduled. And those in the neighborhood don't seem to be MMA fans, either. Just the opposite.

"I don't think it would be something that we would be very keen to see coming to Croke Park," residents' association chair Pat Gates told the Irish Mirror this week. "Personally speaking, I think the fights are very brutal and violent. I'd be surprised if the [Gaelic Athletic Association] would endorse that sport.

"I don't know the type of people that follow him and what sort of atmosphere there is in terms of rowdiness, in terms of public order, they are all the things that we would be seriously concerned about. They would be my concerns and certainly it would be something that I would hate to see the GAA endorse. I don't know if they would but money talks."

The GAA has been headquartered at Croke Park since the stadium opened in 1884. The association hosts sports like Gaelic rules football and hurling. Croke Park can hold 82,300, making it the third largest stadium in Europe.

Back in April, GAA president Aogan O'Fearghail told the Herald that Croke Park would be "open for business" for McGregor.

"Our stadium is here and available," he said. "I haven't seen an application but every application that comes is always welcome. "He's a young athlete who clearly has a world following. Certainly we need to discuss with Conor when he wants to fight and when he wants the venue."

The Irish have traveled en masse to watch McGregor in Las Vegas in his last two fights. A large percentage of the fans in attendance at UFC 189 and UFC 194 came from Ireland. McGregor, the UFC's new undisputed featherweight champion following a win over Jose Aldo earlier this month, has not fought in Ireland since he beat Diego Brandao in July 2014. That fight was at 3Arena in Dublin in front of a sell-out crowd of 9,500.

McGregor, 27, would surely sell Croke Park out. But then again, so did Brooks -- for five shows. More than 400,000 fans had their tickets refunded when the Dublin City Council would not license two of his shows due to vociferous backlash from locals.

"I'm not speaking for all the residents but I don't think it would go down well," Gates said of a McGregor bout. "It's something we would have to discuss but we would have perennial issues with the type of crowds and what impact that is likely to have on the residents."

Currently, nothing seems to be on the docket for McGregor fighting in his home country. He's likely to fight in the United States for the foreseeable future, especially since he has become perhaps the biggest pay-per-view draw in the UFC and has the UFC's highest two gate numbers in Las Vegas.

UFC president Dana White told Australia's NRL Footy Show (h/t MMAjunkie) in September that the promotion loses 25 to 30 percent on pay-per-view shows being held in another country. However, in that same interview, he said McGregor would have his first title defense at Croke Park if he wanted it.

"If he beats Jose Aldo in Las Vegas in December, the next fight will be in Croke Park," White said. "We told him he could defend his title at Croke Park."

McGregor upheld his end of the bargain. But that might not matter to the Croke Park residents.