At UFC 189, Irishman Conor McGregor flattened Chad Mendes in the second round to win the interim UFC Featherweight Championship. At UFC 194, McGregor fought Jose Aldo for the undisputed UFC Featherweight Championship.
Jose Aldo fell in 13 seconds, a UFC record, due to a precise knockout punch from McGregor–who now has another piece for his highlight reel.
His next fight is with Californian and Stockton native Nate Diaz, and there are quite a few highlights already. In a pre-fight video, McGregor and Diaz exhibited some of the highest levels of shit talking in MMA history.
Check out the pre-fight press conference on youtube here:
Diaz was recently announced as a late replacement for McGregor’s scheduled opponent for UFC 196, Lightweight Champion Rafael dos Anjos. Since then, every MMA fan has been waiting for the first sparks of the showdown between Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz.
These are the highlights of the presser.
Toward the end of the conference, a reporter asked McGregor if the outcome of this fight will affect who he fights at UFC 200. She asked him if he had any idea who he wanted to fight. Does he want to fight Rafael dos Anjos, Frankie Edgar, Robbie Lawler, who?
McGregor tells her that it would be hard to recommit to Rafael dos Anjos after he pulled out of UFC 196 at the last moment. She replies that Frankie Edgar is gunning for his belt, but is sidelined with a groin injury.
Not one to miss out on an opportunity to play with words, McGregor answers with a smile.
“They all have sore vaginas lately, it’s crazy, there’s something going on, I dunno. Dos Anjos broke his foot and his vagina in the same damn day. And the same with Edgar. I couldn’t believe the odds of that to happen.”
I wonder what Ronda Rousey and Holly Holm would say if they heard him speak like that. The reporter, Karen Bryant, let him get away with it. Bryant is arguably the most recognizable female reporter in MMA and is known as a “good sport.” She’s the reporter who famously got almost-motorboated by Quinton Jackson.
His words equate female genitalia with weakness. It is obvious that he and the crowd think it is funny, as schoolchildren might. The seeming backwardness of the statement grated on my nerves. I know that he probably didn’t mean any harm. But at his age, I hope he might be beginning to figure out that such comparisons are inaccurate and juvenile.
Listen to the Vagina Comment in the Youtube video below from 47:52
Diaz Claims UFC, McGregor on Steroids
In a move that definitely rattled McGregor, Nate Diaz made the outlandish allegation that McGregor and the whole UFC were on steroids. It was a cheap shot, and both fighters were guilty of many throughout the talk.
The frazzled McGregor fired back with evidence that supports the claim–unfortunately for Diaz. He pointed out that two of Diaz’ associates have been popped for performance enhancing drugs.
Drawing attention to the irony in Diaz’ claim apparently didn’t help McGregor out much. The MMA world is now abuzz with speculation about McGregor’s use of steroids. But let’s be honest.
Diaz was just talking shit.
And it had the intended effect.
In UFC, McGregor and Diaz Fan Favorties
Not surprisingly, the crowd went back and forth between cheering for either fighter. When Diaz got the better of the commentary competition, the crowd called his name. When McGregor won the exchange, the crowd erupted.
However, it did seem that the cheers for McGregor were louder, perhaps speaking to the passion of Irish fans.
At one point, Diaz heckled the crowd with “Hey, this is America” after they cheered for McGregor.
We can’t know what he meant by that. Maybe he saw some people waving the flag of Ireland. Maybe he thinks Americans should only support Americans.
Either way, it sounded backward.
Still, Diaz won the day with simple statements that were hard to argue with, like “Fuck you,” and “It’s the Diaz Show too, don’t forget that.” But his American nationalist comment left a sour taste in my mouth.
McGregor Is Scared of Diaz
McGregor showed signs of mental weakness at the press conference with Nick Diaz. He played his usual money-hungry, fast-talking persona, but Diaz’ I-don’t-give-a-fuck attitude clearly got under his skin.
McGregor had a lot of witty lines during the talk. His best was probably that Diaz “makes gun signs with the right hand and animal balloons with the left hand,” referring to his working with children and the elderly.
But his words ended up betraying him.
He was asked what makes him so successful in fighting late replacements like Diaz. He answered, “It makes no difference if they pull out. There will always be a replacement, and I will always still be in the mix.”
It sounds like nothing, and probably is. But why would he describe himself as always being “in the mix”? It doesn’t sound like the usually flamboyant, self-aggrandizing fighter we know.
It could be that he’s afraid of Diaz.
Perhaps that’s why he kept making jokes about Diaz’ perceived “street” persona. I may be reading into it, but it seems as though a bit of McGregor’s psyche slipped out. To overcome it, he’ll have to employ that mental fighting that Dana White is always talking about.
Diaz Got the Better of the Shit Talking, Barely
As usual, McGregor gets the most points for creativity. But Diaz’ seeming calm under pressure and no-nonsense style put him over the edge in the talk department. His cool made each of his comments and responses that much more loaded.
Diaz ignored the majority of McGregor’s insults, which were largely based on how much money he makes.
Actually, Diaz started off weak with the shit talk and was being very quiet. McGregor started off great as usual, his element always the gab. However, as the conference went on, Diaz adjusted his approach and fought back. With very simple and aggressive comments, like “I come to kill or be killed,” he ended up on top.
Considering McGregor’s seemingly superior footwork and boxing, Diaz will probably have to end up on top with his jiu-jitsu at UFC 196 in order to win.
No one sees McGregor as a man of subtlety. That much is clear. Inside the cage, he is precise, but outside the cage, he doesn’t choose his words wisely.
First there is the Vagina Comment, worthy of schoolchildren. Then he calls Diaz a cholo and a fat, skinny Mexican.
After the conference, he tweets a picture of himself and Diaz along with the message, “I see a fajita.” This kind of shit talk makes him seem like he’s nervous and reaching. I wonder what Cain Velazquez would have to say about it.
Racist comments like these not only piss me off, but really lower my appreciation of fighters who make them.
Fun Facts for Nerds
McGregor is the betting favorite, which comes as no surprise. It also comes as no surprise that there are more Google searches every month for McGregor than there are for Diaz.
People search Google for “ufc mcgregor” 22,000 times per month, “mcgregor ufc” 27,100, “ufc Diaz” 480 and “diaz ufc” 590.
The number of Google searches per month for “conor mcgregor” is 1.83 million worldwide. For “nate diaz,” it is 74,000.
For the sake of comparison, “obama” is searched 1.5 million times per month.
My Prediction for UFC 196
I see the favorite winning a decision here.
But as usual, I’m rooting for the underdog. Triangle choke in the fourth round.