Sunday 4 December 2016

'I have other stuff in the pipeline. S**t is about to hit the fan' - Conor McGregor discusses what's next

JOE CALLAGHAN reports from the T-Mobile Arena

Published 21/08/2016 | 08:09

Conor McGregor celebrates after beating Nate Diaz in Las Vegas
Conor McGregor celebrates after beating Nate Diaz in Las Vegas

CONOR McGREGOR hobbled to the stage on crutches after the most gruelling, at times gruesome, fight of his life and told the world he was in a "beautiful" place.

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The Irishman hung tougher than he has ever had to in his entire career to gain brutal revenge on Nate Diaz in a UFC 202 headline fight that was hailed as an immediate all-time classic.

McGregor survived scares as well as some mistakes in a sapping five-rounder before having his hand raised on a majority decision in front of a crowd who could barely fathom the battle they had seen.

Inevitably, the featherweight champion was immediately asked what's next?

In case you missed it, watch the full fight here:

MMA has been effectively banned in France
MMA has been effectively banned in France

“We’ll see. We’ve got a lot to talk about, but I’m in beautiful, beautiful position now and that was built on hard work, and I’m going to capitalize on that," said McGregor after bouncing back from the first defeat of his UFC career to Diaz last March with the first five-round triumph of his life.

“I have other stuff in the pipeline. Shit is about to hit the fan, I feel. So, we’ll see.” 

There were immediate fears after the war of attrition that McGregor had done serious damage to himself as he stumbled from the cage in the T-Mobile Arena. Initial concerns that he had again suffered cruciate ligament damage gave way to fears that he had broken his foot. McGregor eased those concerns and revealed it was instead deep damage to his shin.

That would stand as only a small price to pay for what could end up being such a seminal victory.

Conor McGregor kicks Nate Diaz during their welterweight rematch at the UFC 202
Conor McGregor kicks Nate Diaz during their welterweight rematch at the UFC 202

"This was a hell of an important fight for me," admitted McGregor, whose rocketing reputation was slowed significantly by that submission in March. "Everyone from the media to the fighters wrote me off this one. They tried to say if I lose this one, I'm done.

"They tried to discredit that I was going up in weight. It was a hell of a fight. I feel I have more skills but boy is he one tough motherf***er. He keeps on walking forward, he keeps on taking shots."

That the veteran Californian most certainly did. Both fighters took an enormous amount of punishment throughout. McGregor dropped Diaz three times early on only to see his welterweight rival roar back into the contest to test him like he's never been before.

"I dropped him multiple times and he keeps coming," the featherweight champion said. "His face was busted open but he kept coming forward. He's a hell of a competitor. The whole lot of it brought out the best in me, forced me to look at myself truly.

LAS VEGAS, NV - AUGUST 20: Conor McGregor of Ireland punches Nate Diaz in their welterweight bout during the UFC 202 event at T-Mobile Arena on August 20, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - AUGUST 20: Conor McGregor of Ireland punches Nate Diaz in their welterweight bout during the UFC 202 event at T-Mobile Arena on August 20, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

"It was not easy, It was a war. I got to show my heart in there. I took it to him and stayed in it and got the win so, I'm very happy."

When alternate options were thrown forward as to his next move, McGregor railed at suggestions that the UFC could strip him of his featherweight title if he doesn't return to that division next to defend his crown.

The appetite for a rubber match will border on voracious after this classic encounter. Options again abound for the Notorious, who took in a record base fee of $3 million on Saturday night and is expected to ultimately earn an eight-figure payday from UFC 202.

"I want to get my abs back," smirked McGregor when asked what his priority now is. "I don't have abs at this weight. Sometimes I feel I have a fat belly. I'm going to go down in weight.

"I'm the 145 champion. The 155 pound [championship] is there. When I fight Nate again...it will be on my terms. I believe if we do it again, it will be for 155, maybe for the belt, who knows what's next?"

For his part, Diaz, who himself earned a record-breaking payday of $2 million that will be added to significantly by pay-per-view cash, is content to wait around for McGregor, insisting he won't take any other fight next.

"Whenever. Whenever they're ready to rock," said the 31-year-old, whose reputation has boomed after these two battles. "I'm not doing shit until round three. You're not going to see me until then. If they want to set it up as soon as possible, let's do it. We'll see what happens."

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