Friday 19 January 2018

Conor McGregor on Diaz rematch: I'm preparing for an ugly Mexican southpaw

Nate Diaz moves in with a punch against Conor McGregor during UFC 196 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Nate Diaz moves in with a punch against Conor McGregor during UFC 196 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Tom Rooney

Conor McGregor’s belated arrivals are only palatable because of the near guarantee of ensuing pandemonium, however, this evening’s UFC 202 press event with Nate Diaz in Las Vegas will soon fade from the memory.

For those hoping to witness a reciprocal wave of vitriol between two of MMA’s most celebrated vulgar-peddlers, this wholly mundane 30 minutes at the T-Mobile Arena certainly failed to live up to its billing and, indeed, the extensive back-catalogue of the main protagonists.

Even at the end of proceedings, when they came face-to-face, hostilities were kept to a minimum.

If the hope was to ratchet up anticipation for their rematch at UFC 202 in same venue on August 20, their mission was neither a success nor failure. Regardless, no fight fan will miss it.

To be fair, the acoustics in what appeared a capacity auditorium meant that the three men on the imposing dais - McGregor, Diaz, and Dana White – could barely hear each other or the often napalm-laced questions sent their way by a press corps ravenous for headlines.

Perhaps the spectre of Jon Jones’ failed drug test and subsequent withdrawal from the main event  title fight with Daniel Cormier at UFC 200 on Saturday loomed too large.

McGregor, for his part, did attempt to stir the pot - informing the world that he has specified his training camp for the first time ever.

“I'm preparing for a tall, lanky ugly Mexican southpaw. August 20 is my date, UFC 202, the real UFC 200, and I will have my redemption. All my sparring partners are six foot plus – I’m sparring with all middleweights.”

Diaz, surprisingly placid and taciturn, didn’t bite.

Of course, he has no cause for posturing. At UFC 196 in March, he submitted McGregor via second round rear naked choke, with the benefit of less than two weeks’ preparation. In doing so, he was also awarded the biggest purse of his career.

McGregor’s braggadocio materialised sporadically and, addressing the rumours the UFC is about to be sold, he assumed sole responsibility for the promotion’s reputed value.

“I believe that there's a $4.2bn estimate on the company because of me, and I feel like I carried this company in 2015.”

He admitted that ‘he messed up the way I communicated’ his desire not to attend the press event for UFC 200 in April, which saw his initially scheduled rematch with Diaz cancelled.

He even offered to fill the void left by Jones and Cormier. However, he also confessed, not for the first time, that he had overlooked Diaz ahead of the original contest . An oversight, he vowed, that will not be replicated.

“I underestimated his durability and experience- I will not do that again.”

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