Whiskey Business: At a chaotic UFC presser, Conor McGregor shills for his new booze brand

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Conor McGregor speaks at the UFC 229 press conference at Radio City Music Hall on Thursday.
Conor McGregor speaks at the UFC 229 press conference at Radio City Music Hall on Thursday.  Credit: Mulholland/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

In his inimitable, merrily profane fashion, UFC standout Conor McGregor on Thursday night hijacked a press conference for his upcoming pay-per-view brawl to shill for his new Irish whiskey brand, Proper No. Twelve.

Speaking from the dais at New York's Radio City Music Hall, the 30-year-old McGregor made use of the crowd of journalists gathered to take in the hoopla surrounding the Dublin fighter's Oct. 6 bout with UFC lightweight champ Khabib Nurmagomedov to make a case for his spirits venture.

McGregor began his pitch some 10 minutes into the presser, when a momentary lull in the Q&A session presented him with the opportunity to talk up his whiskey. "Proper Twelve! Proper Irish whiskey from a proper Irishman!" McGregor shouted as he leapt to his feet with a 750 ml bottle, while fishing a flask-size 200 ml backup from his jacket pocket. "I almost didn't get the bottle into the arena! I'd anticipated that they weren't going to let me in with me big bottle, so I had a little sly bottle brought in!"

The fighter went on to ask for a glass with which to toast "all these foine people here" before intimating that he'd be perfectly content to drink straight from the bottle.

Before moving on to issuing a profanity-laced tirade against Nurmagomedov, one that included much talk of the grievous bodily harm that was in store for the Russian, McGregor set the larger bottle of Proper No. Twelve between his two championship belts. It probably goes without saying that the label was positioned to face the audience.

After an interval in which he assured the mixed martial arts press that he would have killed his opponent in Brooklyn six months ago if he hadn't been hiding inside a bus—"If that bus door had opened, this man would be dead right now. He would be in a box and I would be in a cell."—McGregor offered Nurmagomedov a shot of his homemade hooch. A devout Muslim, Nurmagomedov refused. In response, McGregor snapped, "I bet you're some buzz at parties!" UFC capo Dana White accepted the cup from McGregor and downed a shot with the fighter.

In the grand tradition of American fast-food marketing, McGregor went on to take a few jabs at the best-selling Irish whiskey in the world. "[Proper Twelve] is the finest man-made Irish whiskey there is on the market," he barked during one particularly rambunctious interval of his sales pitch. "None of that danced-on Jameson shit!" He later would boast that he and his Proper Twelve were "coming to take over the whiskey business! Jameson is toast—I'm coming for Jameson!"

As peculiar as it was to see the face of the UFC treating a pay-per-view presser like a long-form QVC segment under the watchful eye of the founder, the extended product placement for McGregor's booze was somewhat legitimized by Proper Twelve's newly-established connection with White's MMA empire. Per terms of McGregor's new contract with the UFC, his whiskey will be an official sponsor of each of his next six fights.

As part of the arrangement, the Proper Twelve logo will be conspicuously visible inside the octagon. Or as McGregor told ESPN's Darren Rovell, the logo will appear "On the canvas. Like [Nurmagomedov's] blood will be on the canvas."

The undefeated Nurmagomedov had the last word regarding McGregor's new business venture, warning him that all the whiskey in County Cork wouldn't help improve his opponent's odds of walking out of the ring under his own power. In response, McGregor cackled giddily.

White said the McGregor-Nurmagomedov fight is on pace to scare up 2.5 million pay-per-view buys, which would place it among the three biggest combat events of all time. The event will take place in Las Vegas' T-Mobile Arena.

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