Saturday 24 March 2018

Conor McGregor: Aldo and Mendes tweeting each other like pally pals proves they are cowards

Conor McGregor in Las Vegas
Conor McGregor in Las Vegas

JOE CALLAGHAN reports from Las Vegas

THE time for talking may be rapidly approaching its end but Conor McGregor is still determined to get plenty off his tattooed chest before the clock ticks down.

The Dubliner was in combative form at the MGM Grand on Wednesday afternoon as he took aim at Saturday's UFC 189 rival Chad Mendes and the original opponent Jose Aldo. McGregor had just gone through a surprisingly lengthy public work-out in front of a raucous crowd.

While Mendes and fellow headliners Rory MacDonald and Robbie Lawler - who meet in a welterweight title fight - had been efficient but very brief in their public run-throughs, McGregor, never quick to run from the spotlight, took his merry time. The other trio were all in and done within ten to 15 minutes but McGregor went through myriad drills for almost a full hour.

Afterwards, he immediately dismissed any claims about his weight, and then got down to business, the business of trash talk. Asked was he grateful the UFC put an interim featherweight belt on the line when champion Aldo withdrew through injury, the flurry began.

"Grateful? I'm always grateful for everything in my life," said McGregor. "But it's the rightful thing to do. [Aldo] didn't show up. Where's the pride? Where's the fighter in him? And then I see him sitting back and him and Chad tweeting back and forth like little buddies.

"When a man is close to death they try and bunch up and buddy up together. They know it's over for them. Let them be little pally pals. We are different people me and [Aldo]. If he grows a set of balls, his time will come too. He will get it as well."

Chad Mendes
Chad Mendes

In McGregor's view, Mendes' communication with Aldo was a sign of weakness in the drafted-in American.

"I think he is crumbling already to be honest. I see a forced persona. He's just different. And then the little back and forth tweets with Jose and he's talking in Brazilian 'Can I have your fans' support please?' and all this bulls***. What is that? That's coward s***."

The fight pits McGregor, who will have one last chance for fighting talk at today's (Thurs) final press conference, against the No.1 ranked challenger in the weight division. It also gives the undefeated 26-year-old a chance to silence one significant section of the detractors and skeptics. Mendes is a supreme wrestler, an area of the game where McGregor is presumed to be weak.

"I don't think he's the superior wrestler," challenged McGregor. "I've been trained by my Moldovan coaches for a long, long time and my coach John [Kavanagh] is a phenomenal grappler. I feel in the grappling exchanges I'll have the advantage. I'm smoother in the grappling exchanges. We will go out and shut him down.

"I kick fast. When I let a kick go fully. I'll kick him upside his head quicker than he can blink. There are many shots I visualise cracking him. He's coming in here that height. When you're releasing the trigger fully and the target is there [lower], it takes half a millisecond to get from the ground to the head. He is in a lot of trouble and he will know that from the off. I will KO him. Too much power. Too much precision. One round will be enough."

McGregor confirmed that Sinead O'Connor is jetting in to Sin City to lead him into the ring with a live rendition of The Foggy Dew, his long-time entrance song. "Yes. The McGregor Show is a spectacle," he said. "Sinead has been signing me out for a long time so to have her sing live, it's going to be historic."

O'Connor is far from alone in making the trans-Atlantic trip. Upwards of 2500 fight fans are travelling from Ireland while a record UFC uptake from Australia - an organisation source confirmed a figure around 7 per cent of the 16,000 tickets - has a huge Irish contingent too. On Wednesday, Tricolours draped the makeshift venue for the public work-out.

"I actually wasn't [expecting as many Irish]. I mean, it was packed to the rafters and it's only Wednesday," said McGregor, who stayed behind for what seemed like an age to grant almost every fan, Irish or otherwise, a selfie. "I believe they're just going to keep raining on in until it's green, white and orange everywhere. It's going to be a phenomenal weekend for the Irish and for myself and my team. I'm looking to enjoy every second of it and I am enjoying every second of it."

McGregor hopes to have some excess baggage when he makes the return trip across the ocean next week.

"I haven't anything planned [for a homecoming yet but make no mistake about it, I am going to head straight back to my country and raise that belt," he said. "It's going to be a proud day for my nation, my team and everyone who has been supporting me. It's something that's giving me goosebumps right now just thinking about it."

Read more: Former City chief Cook hails McGregor impact

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