LOS ANGELES – It's hard to blame UFC interim featherweight champion Conor McGregor for deciding to shoot for the moon.
After all, we're barely two years removed from the bombastic Irishman's humble UFC start, a win over Marcus Brimage that was live-streamed over Facebook.
Nowadays, McGregor's pulling into media events in downtown LA with the top down on a rented Bentley convertible.
Nearly everything McGregor has predicted for his career has come true, in the face of throngs of detractors, from his long win streak in the featherweight division to his pay-per-view stardom.
So can you blame McGregor for turning up the volume on his set of predictions?
McGregor cranked the knob to 11 on Wednesday when asked whether AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys, would sell out for a UFC card with both McGregor and UFC women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey on the bill.
"I think me and Ronda could sell out Cowboys Stadium separately," McGregor said. "I think that's the level we are at."
Of course, McGregor's got quite a bit ahead of him before he's a solo stadium headliner, not the least of which is the UFC 189 title unification bout with champion Jose Aldo in Las Vegas, the fight which had been rumored to land in Dallas.
And he was ostensibly in town to promote the upcoming season of The Ultimate Fighter, which kicks off on Fox Sports 1 next Wednesday, which features McGregor and Urijah Faber as opposing coaches.
After a draining sequence of events leading up to memorable UFC 189 – a knee injury in training camp, Chad Mendes replacing Jose Aldo two weeks before the fight, a rumored tough weight cut, and a rally from deep trouble to finish Mendes late in the second round -- McGregor seemed ready for a long break.
Instead, he's looking to scale new mountains. McGregor has formulated a new gameplan, one which has him finishing the job at 145 pounds, moving up to lightweight, and making as much money as he can along the way.
"I used to want to get rich and then get out of the sport," McGregor said. "Now I want to get wealthy. I got home and I thought I wanted to step away for a while, but I was back in the gym within a couple days. Now I'm out here in the California sun and going out to the beach and I feel rejuvenated and ready to go."
Next in McGregor's gameplan is the long anticipated match with Aldo. McGregor said Aldo, who dropped out of UFC 189 with a rib injury, was brought into the TUF gym on the season's final day of shooting, where the two exchanged words.
"They brought him into The Ultimate Fighter gym on the final day," McGregor said. "I shook his hand, I'm not trying to scare him. I cannot scare him anymore. I want to cuddle him and tell him that it's going to be OK. I want to shake his hand and show him its OK. I want to tell him stop being a [expletive], it will be over soon and you'll be back to your normal life with your wife and your kids. Don't worry, it will be over soon."
While most fighters adhere to superstition and refuse to talk about their future beyond their upcoming opponent, McGregor's vision includes defeating Aldo, then taking his act up to the lightweight division.
Rafael dos Anjos and Donald Cerrone will fight for dos Anjos' lightweight title on Dec. 19 in Orlando. McGregor went ahead and took aim at both.
"I wouldn't want to fight a lightweight guy to get the numbers, because Rafael has nothing, Donald has nothing," McGregor said. "Rafael will be looking to make six figures this fight, and rightfully so. He shouldn't even make six figures, because he doesn't even bring in six figures. Donald will scrape six figures because he shows up and fights every couple of weeks. But he don't earn much more than that. I already have the numbers, so when I go to the lightweight division, it will be to gain more gold, to warm up my other shoulder."
Cerrone, for his part, replied on Twitter, reminding McGregor the two will both attend a UFC news conference in Las Vegas on Friday.
Just focus on your task at hand @TheNotoriousMMA you do realize you have to see me face to face in 2 days— Cowboy Cerrone (@Cowboycerrone) September 3, 2015
Before exiting The Palm restaurant to pick up his Bentley from valet parking, McGregor aimed at the biggest stars of them all. While McGregor's not so bold as to claim that he's accomplished as much in his career as all-time combat sports greats Floyd Mayweather Jr., Georges St-Pierre and Anderson Silva, he doesn't mind pointing out – accurately – that at 26, none of the above trio pulled in the PPV numbers and TV ratings that McGregor has at said age.
"As far as them searching for stars, since Georges and Anderson [left], bring Georges and Anderson back," McGregor said Wednesday. "Do you think they're on this level? Do you think at 26 years of age, they had all these records, all these numbers? Not even Floyd was 26 drawing these numbers."
Is such talk brash? Yes. But McGregor has yet to see anything in his UFC journey that suggests that the things that he imagines won't come true.
"I have the game in the palm of my hand, and I know it, and they know it, and they know I know it," McGregor said. "So, it's interesting times. Life is good."
Follow Dave Doyle on Twitter: @DaveDoyleMMA
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