Monday 18 February 2019

Nate Diaz's coach reckons 'little kid' Conor McGregor couldn't handle being walked out on

Tom Rooney

It’s not often that any event involving Conor McGregor slips through the cracks but, until last night’s bout of bottle tossing with Nate Diaz, their rematch at UFC 202 was struggling for a share of the spotlight.

There’s been something oddly unnerving about the lack of rancour between Diaz and McGregor on those few occasions they’ve come in close contact since their last bout at UFC 196.

On that famous March night, the Californian, with the benefit of just of just 10 days’ preparation, pulled off a career defining upset by defeating the Dubliner via second round rear naked choke

There’s been the occasional barb in the interim but, largely, each man kept the verbal sparring to a minimum. Evidently a tentative one, the armistice was wholly shattered at the David Copperfield Theatre in Las Vegas last night.

McGregor’s standard tardiness for the press event irked UFC president Dana White, his contemporaries and, evidently, Diaz.

McGregor was in the process of answering a question when Diaz upped and left the dais, as he and an excessively big posse made their way out of the venue profanities were exchanged, before Diaz hurled a water bottle in the Crumlin man’s direction.

 McGregor responded in kind and what followed was nothing short of repugnant, and will have done MMA’s already divisive reputation no favours.

While the UFC will publicly condemn the incident, behind closed doors they’ll be thanking their lucky stars for a much needed spark for an event that has been near completely enveloped by the Olympics.

Richie Perez, Diaz’s boxing coach, was front and centre when the hostilities unfolded and he believes McGregor was ill-equipped to cope with getting a taste of his own medicine. He also rubbished the notion that the debacle was staged for promotional purposes.

“McGregor did that just to do it, to get on Nathan’s nerves. What happened was he came in late, talking all tough and Nathan said ‘he came late, I’m booking,’” Perez told Submission Radio.

“He was speechless, it caught him off guard and that made him mad. It was a spontaneous thing, it wasn’t planned at all. McGregor thinks he’s the king, who can do what he wants, and when he came in, Nathan just said it’s my turn to leave.

“I think he did the right thing, just to walk out and it got on McGregor’s nerves, he didn’t like it and he didn’t know how to handle it.”

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Prior to and after their first contest Perez accused McGregor of using performance enhancing drugs, and he’s also claimed that the SGB man was the first to throw a bottle which, according the footage, was the not the case.

Perez went on to dismiss the assertion made by McGregor that Diaz is walking around at 200lbs. The fight will be contested at welterweight (170lbs.)

Diaz has fought all but five of his 29 career fights at lightweight (155lbs.), while McGregor is current featherweight champion (145lbs.).

Neither fighter is likely to be seriously encumbered by a weight cut but, make no mistake, Diaz is a considerably bigger unit.

In the brief time on the microphone McGregor enjoyed last night, he said that he and Diaz were destined to throw down for a third time, which could only conceivably happen if he prevails at the T-Mobile Arena on Saturday night.

Perez contends that McGregor is only making such predictions for his own benefit and, unforeseen miracles notwithstanding, Diaz is certain to win again.

“So he acted like a little kid, throwing bottles, which he shouldn’t have been - Nathan got to him.

“He’s (Diaz) not no 200lbs. He sparred with some guys and he hits really hard, but he’s something like 176-179lbs. They just said he hit like a 200lbser, but he never weighed that. Not even close.

“It’s either going to be a knockout or submission. Because the last time it was only eight days, and this time it’s a whole training camp so you’ve got to look at that. Even if it’s a decision, he’s going to win.

“I don’t see Nathan losing, that’s the thing. If he does, it’s probably a third fight, but I doubt it. He’s (McGregor) just saying that right now because he has to say something positive about himself.”

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