Friday 30 September 2016

Conor McGregor: I'll make my own history and wipe out Diaz

Joe Callaghan in Las Vegas

Published 03/03/2016 | 07:19

Once again, it seemed like the only thing that Conor McGregor can't stay on top of is the clock. The UFC's self-appointed master of timing was well over an hour and a half late for his first public appearance of fight week in Las Vegas on Wednesday afternoon.

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But if the featherweight world champion's tardiness had been tiresome to the crowd packed into the intimate surrounds of the Jabbawockeez Theatre they didn't show it. McGregor was serenaded throughout a 30-minute public workout and was then peppered with questions in a hectic media scramble afterwards.

On both stages, the Notorious was in vigorous form. That has become something to expect on the week of a headline fight here in Sin City, a setting that does seem to truly thrill the fighter. Even this rapidly rearranged headline bout has McGregor on top form.

There will be no belt or history on the line at the MGM Grand when Nate Diaz stares down the sport's leading man on Saturday night. No matter, says McGregor.

"Look at this," he said as he pointed to the hundreds packed into the other side of the theatre on a Wednesday afternoon. "This is always history. Every damn time. The gates keep rising, the pay-per-view keeps rising, the attendance. Everything keeps rising. It's always history when I step inside that octagon.

"I've two belts at home - I've the interim and the unified featherweight and I've the featherweight and lightweight world titles I won in the previous organisation. There's belts everywhere with me. I'm seriously considering making my own damn belt. And then I'll decide what weight the flight is at.

"Why not? Who cares about the belts. [I'm] the money fight. This is the fight everyone wants. They should be chasing for it, knocking everyone out of their way to get to it. Not crying and complaining and saying 'I'm going to wait'."

McGregor again pointed the finger at Rafael Dos Anjos, his original opponent, who pulled out of the main event of UFC 196 with a broken foot. He signalled that the lightweight champion's opportunity for a big-money showdown with the market leader may now have passed as he moves up to lightweight.

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"Dos Anjos is an absolute bum. How can you pull out of a fight with a bruised foot? And he's still complaining. Talk all this shit. Man up and fight. Come on," said McGregor, before quickly switching back to targeting Diaz.

"This is the numbers and straps life, take out the straps, it's still the numbers life. That's it. I'm here for a fight. Let's see if this guy can fight. He's talked a fair bit. If you've been following me or him you'll know that there's been subtle digs over the course of the past year or two years where he's said this and said that.

"Now all of a sudden he's a scared little brother of some sort. Let's see what he has to say, I'm here for a fight and a cheque. How many times has he had this swagger about him [in the past]? Last week [at a press conference in California] he sat there and he done nothing. He quivered. He looked at [elder brother] Nick every two seconds.

"He shouldn't have said anything. As soon as he said something, I picked his bones off him. Now I came hunting for him. He's trying to say people are afraid to fight him. I hunted him down, stalked him, and now I have him trapped on Saturday."

The pair will again come face to face on Thursday afternoon in the final press conference before they reconvene in the cage 48 hours later. Saturday night represents McGregor's professional debut at welterweight and should all go according to plan - he again predicated an early finish - he could stay in the 170lb division for an immediate title shot against Robbie Lawler back here in high summer.

"I like Robbie. I won't say a bad word about Robbie. He fights with his heart, he's been around the game so, so long. But if we fought, I'd beat him. I'm too fast for him," McGregor said of a potentially mouth-watering fight with the veteran champion "The size difference is not anything. I've stood beside him, I've seen him [up close]. But I do like Robbie. I respect him as a champion, as a man who drifted off, came back and rose up. Stood up and is welterweight champion. We'll see how it goes. That is an appealing one. All of the belts, we'll see."

McGregor said he's currently waking up under the 170lb weight limit before a double breakfast gets him closer to the mark. Ignoring all of the weight divisions and levelling the entire UFC field, the 27-year-old scoffed at Jon Jones' assertion that he remains the pound-for-pound King of mixed martial arts.

"He's not," asserted McGregor. "I'm number one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight and nine. Maybe Jon or Mighty Mouse is ten. That's where I feel.

"I'm living good. I'm eating better, I'm dressing better. This is just another day. I'm 27 and I'm at the very very top, with no one even close. I train intelligent. I love to work different ways and I listen to myself. When I do need to take a step back, I take a step back. But now I don't. I'm happy, comfortable, energised."

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