Ask Conor McGregor, and he’ll tell you he almost had him.
McGregor suffered a surprising loss to Nate Diaz at UFC 196 in March. It came via a second-round submission, but McGregor, who agreed to a 170-pound weight limit despite initially training for a 155-pound bout with Rafael dos Anjos, is convinced he owned the early portion of the fight.
“The first eight minutes of the fight was easy,” McGregor recently told ESPN.com. “Let’s be honest, I slapped the head off him. Once the gas tank went, that was it. I drowned. He landed that one punch that rang the bell and went, ‘(Gasp,) I’m back.’ He was close to being done. One or two more shots, and he would have been wrapped up.”
While there has been some talk about McGregor stepping out of the octagon and into the boxing ring for a fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr., the more likely scenario seems to be a rematch with Diaz, perhaps at UFC 202 in August. Another fight at 170 pounds is unique, given that McGregor is the current 145-pound UFC featherweight champion and Diaz typically has fought as a 155-pound lightweight throughout his career, but The Notorious told ESPN.com he’s adamant about replicating the previous circumstances.
“What kind of fighter would I be, if I said, ‘Hey, I didn’t get you at 170, let me try to get you at 155,’ ” McGregor said. “I’ll make my adjustments. I ate up to the weight. This time, I won’t do that.”
According to McGregor, he found himself more energetic than normal in the two weeks leading up to the UFC 196 fight because he ate whatever he wanted in order to make weight. It perhaps led to some ill-advised training decisions as McGregor sought to burn that energy, but he’s now confident he has discovered the perfect formula for avenging his loss to Diaz.
Then again, when isn’t McGregor confident?
Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images
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