LAS VEGAS -- The Conor McGregor train just keeps on rolling. More interviews, more talk-show appearances, more press conferences, more magazine covers.
Wherever McGregor goes here in Vegas, he gets mobbed by legions of fans. Last week in Los Angeles, hundreds showed up to watch his press conference with Nate Diaz at UFC Gym. Security had a hard time getting McGregor from the gym's back exit into a waiting SUV due to the swarms of people outside just trying to catch a glimpse.
Things have gotten so ridiculous that there were fans standing in line waiting to get a photo with a McGregor impersonator outside the UFC 196 pre-fight press conference venue Thursday at MGM Grand. Can't get close to "The Notorious?" "The Doppelganger" will have to suffice.
Over the last few months, McGregor has knocked out Jose Aldo in 13 seconds to unify the UFC featherweight title, adorned the cover of Sports Illustrated and appeared on "Conan." The fight this week against Diaz isn't even for a title and it's still an impossibly hot ticket.
According to Seat Geek, tickets for UFC 196 are actually more expensive now than they were when McGregor was fighting Rafael dos Anjos for the lightweight belt. The average resale price in the secondary market for a ticket to UFC 194, which featured McGregor's win over Aldo, was $816 and UFC 196 is a tougher ticket to nab than a resale ticket to every NFL game this past season other than the Super Bowl, including the playoffs, according to the website.
McGregor already has set gate records at MGM Grand and pulled in oodles of pay-per-view buys. Where does he go from here? What happens if he beats Diaz?
Well, per McGregor's manager Audie Attar, the razor-witted Irishman hasn't even come close to reaching his ceiling.
"Is it new? Yeah," Attar told MMA Fighting. "When I stop and reflect and smell the roses, do I see a progression and an evolution? Absolutely. But it's something we always expected and I think we all believe that it's just the beginning. We all share a similar ambition and the things that we want to accomplish are going to be things that are constantly seen or viewed or felt as if they are new to the sport."
The key, of course, is beating Diaz, even though McGregor is in fine shape even if he loses. He'll still be featherweight champion. If he wins, though, the options will be aplenty. It'll almost be an embarrassment of riches. McGregor joked Thursday at the press conference that he'd like to fight himself (imagine those PPV numbers) but the UFC actually might need two of him just to setup all these blockbuster fights.
"I think what's important for him and the sport is that there are going to be an ample, healthy amount of candidates," Attar said. "That's what makes this sport so exciting, right? If it was just one person and they have to constantly face each other, that would probably get old after a while."
McGregor could choose to try things again with dos Anjos and the lightweight title. Or he could stay at welterweight, where he'll face Diaz, and fight Robbie Lawler for that belt. Then there's Nate's brother Nick Diaz, an Aldo rematch and Frankie Edgar. The list goes on and on.
"It's nothing that he hasn't already said," Attar said. "But I think he's going with the flow. It's whatever makes sense at that time. He's very much like that. It's how he lives his life. And I appreciate that about him. I think when it's all said and done, if it's dos Anjos, if it's Lawler, if it's the Aldo rematch, whatever it may be, it's whatever makes sense at that time."
McGregor really did want to fight dos Anjos this weekend. He wanted to make history by becoming the only fighter to ever hold two different UFC belts at different weights at the same time. If he beat dos Anjos, he would have done that. But dos Anjos pulled out last week due to a broken foot and Diaz stepped in.
"The one thing I'll tell you about Conor is he has a short memory," Attar said. "He has a short memory with regards to the replacements. He has a long memory when it comes to everything else. This is a business and he truly believes that it's a blank canvas, whoever he's going into face. Granted, he wanted that other belt. He's still gonna go after it and probably another one as well. He's just looking at these as superfights. I think the next best name in line was Diaz."
Sometimes, McGregor says he wants all the belts. Other times, he says he doesn't care about any belt -- he just wants the big money fight. Diaz represents the latter, while some of the other names on his hit list are the former.
Perhaps he came up with a solution Wednesday at open workouts.
"I'm seriously considering making my own damn belt," McGregor said. "I'll make my own belt and then I'll decide what weight the fight is at. Why not?"
Who's going to tell him he can't?