By Jai Bednall

My two favourite athletes - and it's daylight third - are Conor McGregor and LeBron James.

Their history-making talent, once-in-a-generation ability to make normally-mundane press conferences must-watch viewing and general swagger have elevated them alongside the heroes of my youth - Michael Jordan, Steve Waugh and Tony Modra.

On Sunday I was in the same room as both James and McGregor as the NBA superstar watched the UFC champion take on Floyd Mayweather in a boxing match.


And it didn't come close to some of the most epic sporting events I've covered.

It's a strange position to be in because there were early omens this trip to Las Vegas was going to be an all-timer.

A lack of Ubers, a late taxi and a failure to remember I needed a new ESTA because I'd purchased a new passport since the last time I was in the US had me approaching the check-in counter at Sydney Airport just 55 minutes before my flight left in an absolute panic.

I'd pushed the hour cut-off mark for international flights on a couple of occasions - once after losing track of time in a Bali pool on a buck's trip and more recently after the bus taking me to Nairobi Airport broke down.

But this was new territory and if I hadn't decided to run straight to the first-class counter - and found a lovely Qantas staff member who even gave me express passes to rush through security - I would have had some explaining to do to the boss.

Sin City was a little subdued the first couple of days I was here but everything changed on Friday morning as I woke to the sounds of Irish fans singing outside my hotel.

It was weigh-in day and with tickets ranging anywhere from $1500 to $100,000 to go to the actual fight, this was the best opportunity many of McGregor's travelling countrymen would have to see him in the flesh. And there were thousands of them.

McGregor weigh-ins have become ticketed events - a pretty remarkable development given all they entail is both fighters walking to the stage, standing on a scale, speaking for about 60 seconds and then walking off.

But the atmosphere the Irish fans produced - despite the best efforts of Mayweather Promotions who mistakenly thought its hip hop artists were the right fit for the event - was an experience in itself.

I felt goosebumps rising on my skin as they roared for their hero and after it all wound up was absolutely blown away to find a huge throng gathered at the bottom of the exit escalators continuing to sing to anyone who'd listen.

It brought back memories of spending an afternoon next to the trumpet player in the Barmy Army at an Ashes Test at Adelaide Oval. I'm still yet to tick an EPL game off my bucket list but UK fans just seem to do live sport better than almost anyone in the world.

The good vibes kept coming early on fight day as I picked up my credential from the Tribeca Ballroom in New York New York. The communications team running the event hadn't revealed exactly where we'd be sitting and as I searched for section 10 row AA back in my hotel room I was absolutely stoked to find we'd be in the first rows up from the floor. Tickets with a similar view were still going for $10,000 on the second-hand market.

Floyd Mayweather Jr left, speaks with Conor McGregor after their super welterweight boxing match yesterday. Photo / AP
Floyd Mayweather Jr left, speaks with Conor McGregor after their super welterweight boxing match yesterday. Photo / AP

Every one of the undercard fighters had spoken about the privilege of being part of a Mayweather event because of the spotlight it provided. But most of them fought to an all but empty arena. Vegas fight fans are notorious for arriving as late as possible for the main event and the excitement from the weigh-in was long gone.

There were a couple of decent scraps - one champ had his nose broken and lost his title and another, who is known as Mayweather's prodigy, put on a show - but most of the lead-up was spent searching the rows in front for celebrities.

I'd never been in a room with so many A-listers, including Bruce Willis, Jennifer Lopez, Ozzy Osbourne and Charlize Theron. The sports world was out in force too. NFL and NBA stars, Mike Tyson and my man LeBron about five rows back from the ring.

This type of crowd is good for stargazing but in terms of creating atmosphere in a room it fell a little flat. The two national anthem singers were on point but as the fighters began their entrances there was a distinct lack of tension in the room.

He might have been out of the game for two years but the level of comfort the man enjoys at a big-time boxing event is remarkable.

He had complete command of the room - and most importantly the ring - and despite McGregor having some success in the early rounds there was never any doubt who was winning this fight.

The modicum of expectation McGregor and UFC president Dana White had created during the promotion disappeared immediately as Mayweather schooled his 50th and final opponent.

After an early stoppage it was all over and while the post-fight press conferences were entertaining enough it was hard to say this event delivered on the hype.

Compared to the unbridled joy inside the Macarena while 60,000 Brazilian fans sung in unison as Neymar led them to Olympic gold or the pure disbelief at Etihad Stadium when Holly Holm kicked the head off Ronda Rousey, it just didn't stack up.

McGregor will do well to remember the feeling inside T-Mobile Arena as his career continues to soar to greater heights. Earning nine figures is fine but not if it means your diehard fans are priced out of watching you fight. The weigh-in shouldn't steal the show.