But he forgot the belt, leaving an intriguing opening for the late-arriving McGregor to put his hands on the 155-pound strap and place it next to his featherweight title on the dais.
Then Alvarez returned.
And much to the delight of the pro-McGregor crowd, all hell broke loose Thursday at The Theater at Madison Square Garden, as the no-nonsense Philadelphian seized his belt back and faced off against his foe. Moments later, McGregor grabbed a chair and picked it up over his head before UFC President Dana White intervened.
Yes, it’s almost fight night.
Saturday’s bout at Madison Square Garden, which will headline the first New York City show in UFC history, is compelling enough just based on the styles and resumes of both Alvarez and McGregor, as well as the opportunity for McGregor to become the first fighter to hold two UFC titles simultaneously. But as the fight has gotten closer, the bad blood between the two has started to boil, with even the fighters’ dueling fan bases getting involved.
Yet being drowned out by boos whenever he spoke as the press conference began only fueled Alvarez.
“I’m prepared to completely destroy Conor McGregor and silence this crowd,” Alvarez said.
The crowd only got louder with McGregor chants. But Alvarez had his own cheering section.
“Philly’s right here,” he said. “You got problems, talk to Philadelphia. Where’s my opponent?”
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McGregor was nowhere to found, and Alvarez departed, saying, “When he comes, give me a call.”
A few minutes later, the Dubliner arrived, complete with a white mink coat, red shirt and pants that defy description.
“I operate on my time,” McGregor said by way of explanation for his lateness. Shortly after, Alvarez returned, and following their brief skirmish, cooler heads prevailed – at least physically.
Verbally, things were just heating up, but between insults, there was talk of what will happen on Saturday night, and neither fighter is backing down before the main event of UFC 205.
“I predict I rearrange his face,” the challenger said.
As for the champion, Alvarez doesn’t care what the fans or his opponent say. He has a simple warning, and it has nothing to do with verbal jousting.
“I came to New York to fight,” he said simply.