Conor McGregor takes his Vegas bow on Sunday morning at UFC 178 when he face American Dustin Poirier.
Victory for the outspoken Crumlin native will move him closer to a shot against featherweight champion Jóse Aldo, an fight that could even take place before the end of the year. Defeat, on the other hand, would represent a huge setback to what has been a meteoric rise to stardom for the Dubliner.
McGregor has looked impressive in his three appearances in the UFC octagon so far. His exciting fighting style, charismatic personality and good looks have made him a huge star at home. The 26-year-old is still an emerging name in the US and his fight this weekend appears on a card headlined by lightweight champion Demetrious Johnson.
"Notorious" will be looking to steal the show. The last time he fought on American soil, in Boston, he was left disappointed when his fight was badly hampered by a torn ACL. In spite of the injury, he controlled the tussle and defeated his opponent Max Holloway by a unanimous decision.
The injury kept him out of the cage for eight months before a triumphant homecoming earlier this year at what was then the O2, where he knocked out Aldo’s compatriot Diego Brandao inside the first round in front of rapturous crowd.
A spectacular showing on Sunday will give more credence to his claims of being the best 155 pound mixed martial artist in the world. Plus, a win would make it harder for UFC supremo Dana White to resist his calls to make the fight with Aldo.
Poirier for his part represents the toughest opponent of McGregor’s career, the American is ranked above the Dubliner and also hold victories against Holloway and Brandao.
The bookies can’t see past McGregor, with a victory priced at 1/3, while his trainer John Kavanagh claimed earlier this week that his protégé would become the first man to win a UFC title at three different weights.
Defeat on Sunday morning will make those claims look very foolhardy. Nevertheless, when the Octagon door is shut on Sunday, "The King of Dublin" could very well emerge with royal prestige.