Conor McGregor knows he’s going to make millions at UFC 189 Saturday night, but he’s also hoping to win a few million more in a wager with UFC president Dana White.
McGregor, who faces Chad Mendes for the interim featherweight title at MGM Grand, acknowledged Wednesday at a public workout that he proposed a $3.5-million bet with White that he would finish Mendes by the end of the second round.
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He made the proposed wager, which he called “friendly,” in an email to White but hasn’t heard back.
“It’s a good bet,” McGregor said after a spirited half-hour workout in front of several hundred fans, many of whom waved Irish flags. “It’s a damn good bet. I’d take it. We’ll see.”
McGregor said he hadn’t planned on discussing the bet until White talked about it in a radio interview.
“I just heard that he spoke about it on the radio,” he said. “That’s how everyone knows about it because I didn’t tell nobody. It was behind closed doors. I don’t discuss business; he does. I hope that means he’s taking it.”
Mendes, who also took part in the public workout, seemed aware of the wager but dismissed it as an attempt by McGregor to stir interest in the main event.
“I think that’s just another way for Conor to build this fight up,” Mendes said. “Make the bet or not, I know what I have to do. I have to get in there and whip this dude’s ass.”
Despite a short training camp, Mendes, the featherweight division’s No. 1 contender, insisted he’s in prime shape for the scheduled five-rounder. He last fought in April, scoring a first-round knockout of Ricardo Lamas.
“I’m feeling damn good right now,” Mendes said. “I’m the type of guy that over-trains pretty damn quick. Usually within three to four weeks in a training camp I feel probably peaked out. It’s a lot of maintaining from there.
“I feel fast, I feel explosive. I don’t feel full of injuries and beat up. Only time will tell, (but) right now I feel great.”
McGregor appeared emotionally upbeat after entering the MGM Grand ballroom to cheers. He greeted fans before working out, then spent almost 20 minutes afterward taking selfies and signing autographs.
“I believe it’s going to keep raining on in until it’s green, white and orange everywhere,” he said of the Irish fan invasion. “It’s going to be a phenomenal weekend for the Irish and for myself and my team. I’m looking to enjoy every second of it, and I am enjoying every second of it.”
As for Mendes, McGregor didn’t seem too concerned with his opponent’s wrestling expertise.
“I feel in the grappling exchanges I have the advantage,” McGregor said. “I’m smoother in the grappling exchanges. We will go out and I will shut him down wherever need be.
“I see one or two exchanges, one or two scrambles and him having enough. He has a built-in excuse, that he’s taking the fight on short notice and all this. One or two smacks around the chin and he will be gone.”
Michael Martinez is a longtime sports journalist and former staff writer at The New York Times, the San Jose Mercury News and FOX Sports. Follow him on Twitter at @ByMMartinez