UFC fans will witness one of the most-hyped bouts in recent history this Saturday. Jose Aldo Jr. and Conor McGregor have been awaiting the fight since January. Previously slated to take place in July at UFC 189, Aldo was forced to withdraw due to injury. Chad Mendes, filling for the injured Aldo, was promptly defeated by McGregor. The win positioned McGregor as the interim Featherweight champion, as Aldo technically still held the title. McGregor will finally get his shot at the seven-time defending champ to earn what he already believes is his: the UFC Featherweight title.
Both men enter the title fight with momentum on their side. The challenger, McGregor, has won his last fourteen fights. Aldo, meanwhile, has held the title belt since 2010, defeating all seven challengers who he has since faced. If the title itself wasn’t enough, EA Sports added another facet to the fight — a marketing opportunity. The winner — and new Featherweight champion — will join Ronda Rousey on the cover of EA Sports: UFC 2.
Conor “The Notorious” McGregor
Known for his brash personality and a propensity to speak his mind, McGregor has positioned himself as one of the most popular fighters in UFC. Since the title fight’s announcement in January, “The Notorious” has been raking in the endorsement deals.
Reebok was the first brand to come calling following the January announcement. The relationship has already had a few ups and downs in its short life. Prior to his fight at UFC 189 in July, McGregor refused to wear Reebok’s newly designed fight kit. The kit upset many fighters because it took their nicknames and supported brands off of their pre-fight attire and instead displayed only Reebok’s logo and the fighter’s name.
McGregor’s beef, however, wasn’t with the kit itself. It was the fact that he didn’t want to wear what everyone else was wearing. That’s not his style. Prior to the weigh-ins, Reebok presented McGregor with his contract which stated he was required to wear the fight kit. McGregor again refused and wore his own apparel instead, standing behind the persona that has made him one of the most marketable fighters in UFC.
The turmoil with Reebok did not stop there. After signing his coach, John Kavanaugh, to a partnership, Reebok released a t-shirt that stated, “Show Your Territorial Allegiance,” including a map of Ireland. Unfortunately, the brand forgot to include Northern Ireland on the graphic. Kavanaugh, whose wife hails from Northern Ireland, became so upset with the mistake that he threatened to terminate the partnership. The issue was eventually quelled when Reebok removed the t-shirt from their website.
Throughout 2015, McGregor continued to attract major brands, including luxury suit designer, David August, Bud Light, Monster Energy, and Fanatics. Typically, athletes take to social media to show their excitement and gratitude when joining a premier brand. With Monster Energy, McGregor took a different approach:
— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) May 4, 2015
McGregor considers himself to be one of the world’s biggest stars and UFC’s Dana White believes it is a real possibility. White went as far as to compare the fighter to the world’s highest-earning athlete, Floyd Mayweather:
“He can be bigger than Mayweather. If you look at his style and his approach, the talk, the brashness, the things that are said. The cars, the McMansion, the bus to Vegas. He is definitely a huge star.”
McGregor’s stardom will jump to the next level if he is able to take down the seven-time defending champ at UFC 194. If he can gain the attention that he did leading up to the fight — including the addition of five endorsement deals — his opportunities will skyrocket if he becomes the UFC’s Featherweight Champion.
This should be fun.
— FOX Sports Live (@FOXSportsLive) December 10, 2015