Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images
By Jeff Wagenheim
January 22, 2015

BOSTON -- The accents were unmistakable. The drive into the city was a festival of broad “a” and missing “r,” the car radio -- caaah radio? -- blustering sports talk that on this chilly Friday morning really was just sport talk, singular and single-minded. Caller after caller went on about the Patriots, the inevitable Super Bowl to come, and the mere formality of that Sunday night’s AFC Championship game against the Colts. Forget this very night’s Celtics game at TD Garden or the next evening’s Bruins home contest. What everyone wanted to talk about was the only game in town.

Well, that went for everyone except those folks inside one of the bars just down a cobblestone concourse from historic Faneuil Hall. The accents there were unmistakable as well. This place felt like a whole different noontime world, a world with kicks, yes, but no punts or passes or even deflated pigskins. Though the televisions in each wood-paneled corner were showing NFL highlights, no one in the room seemed even remotely interested in Tom Brady or Bill Belichick. “Don’t care much for American football,” said one young man who, like several others, had traveled in from Dublin. “I’m here for McGregor.”

Conor McGregor was moments from arriving for one of his last public appearances in a week filled with them, all pointed toward his UFC main event two nights later at the Garden. Yes, Sunday night. His opponent was going to be a formidable one -- the big game 30 miles to the south in Foxboro.

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Conor McGregor believes his ascension has just begun. A lot of people in Ireland share that faith, and there’s a growing number of believers now here on this side of the pond, too. The doubters still doubt, but they’re not turning their heads away. Everyone on all sides of the cage wants to see if they’ve been right about McGregor all along. There’s only one way to find out. And in a few months, when that Buffer guy bellows “It’s time!” he will be speaking truth.

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