Sport MMA

Monday 23 October 2017

Conor McGregor: 'I slapped the head off Diaz in last fight. He was like Homer Simpson'

Conor McGregor claims Nate Diaz was like Homer Simpson in their last fight
Conor McGregor claims Nate Diaz was like Homer Simpson in their last fight

Jake O'Donnell

Conor McGregor has been speaking in a typically confident way ahead of his UFC 202 welterweight bout against Nate Diaz this weekend.

With no title on the line, McGregor is fighting to redeem himself after the embarrassment he suffered in defeat to Diaz at UFC 196, where Diaz, who replaced the injured Rafael Dos Anjos, had only ten days notice to prepare before the fight but still managed to choke out the Irishman inside two rounds.

Twenty-eight-year-old McGregor has been reflecting on his training before the defeat at the hands of Diaz in March earlier this year, and he is now feeling confident that he has better prepared and learnt from past mistakes.

“Usually at the end of camp I’m banged up, I’m absolutely perfect. This time of the last camp I was in a bad way, the opponent change, I was banged up,” said McGregor.

Conor McGregor lands a blow on Nate Diaz Photo: AP Photo/Eric Jamison
Conor McGregor lands a blow on Nate Diaz Photo: AP Photo/Eric Jamison

“ This time, I’m fresh, I’m underweight and I know he’s about 200-pounds. It’s been a phenomenal camp and I look forward to showcasing what I’ve been doing in the gym.

“I’m interested to see what the boy (Diaz) has done with a full camp.  Let’s see what his full camp has done. I believe I am the better fighter by a long stretch. He is tough, durable and big, that’s it. He’s spoke a big game about it, so let’s see.”

The defeat in March tarnished McGregor’s previously perfect UFC record but according to McGregor, “It’s part of the game. The highs are high and the lows are very, very low. This is the game we’re in. No one makes it out of this game unscathed, all you have to do is look at the history books. I made my plans for revenge and that’s it.

“I have reasons why I performed that way, but tune in August 20th and you’ll see the real me. He’s got weight, he’s got endurance and I need to go in there and put him away. I am laser focused and I have to go put him away.”

With notably less press work and trash talking before this fight than in McGregor’s previous high profile fights, possibly due to his disagreements over excessive media duties with UFC President Dana White, he still managed to fit in some classic McGregor lines while analysing his UFC 196 loss to Diaz.

“I was controlling the contest, I was slapping the head off of him. He was like Homer Simpson in that fight, he just kept taking shots until I couldn’t hit him anymore.

Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz
Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz

“I feel strong in my mind. I don’t feel defeat. True champions rise again and I’m a true champion. I look forward to rising again on August 20th.”

McGregor, however, dismissed ideas of trash talk stating quite simply: “This trash talk thing, I feel like I’m talking the truth every time. I’m going to go out there and slap that big, heavy guy with eyeballs around the ring.”

Despite the inflated confidence that McGregor puts on so well when talking himself up in the media, he did his best to avoid being drawn into discussing what lies beyond the fight if he does win, and also Dana White’s comments that next up for him would be another fight with Aldo.

“I read that, we’ll see. There’s a lot to still happen yet. I’m going to go in there, to face this man (Diaz), do what I know I can do and put him away and then we’ll see.

“They’re (the rest of the division) praying I don’t come back. Tell me one time I didn’t make weight. I made championship weight when I didn’t have to. I am the featherweight world champion. The guy I KO’d in seconds is the interim, I am leaps and bounds ahead of that division.”

McGregor will be hopeful of revenge and restoring his pride when he steps into the octagon at the T-Mobile Arena, New York, at around 5am Irish time on Sunday morning. From then he can begin to set his sights on a potential rematch with Aldo and his next contract, that he says will have him competing with Cristiano Ronaldo at the top of Forbes’ list of highest-paid athletes.

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