Conor McGregor made the mistake of overlooking Nate Diaz prior to their first bout at UFC 196 earlier this year. In the lead up to that fight, McGregor was already looking forward to challenging then-UFC welterweight champion Robbie Lawler for the 170-lb. title.
In fact, McGregor only took the Diaz fight at welterweight so he could test the waters at that weight class. That seems to have changed now as McGregor appears laser focused on who he has in front of him now, and not who he might need to fight down the road.
Back to 145?
“I don’t even pay attention to it,” McGregor said last Friday night, after a session with media at the gym. “Right now here I am, a couple of days out from a big one. I’ll think about who’s next and what’s next and all those other guys talking sh*t after the fight.”
McGregor will need to keep his focus on Diaz at the moment. Diaz came from behind in their first bout and forced McGregor to tap, shocking the world with an upset victory. The rematch is set for the main event of UFC 202, which takes place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on August 20, less than a week away.
UFC President Dana White confirmed this week that McGregor’s next bout after UFC 202 will be at featherweight, in a defense of his 145-lb. strap. The interim champion at that weight is Jose Aldo, whom McGregor knocked out in 13 seconds last December.
Aldo won the interim UFC featherweight title by unanimous decision over Frankie Edgar at UFC 200.
“If Frankie had have won that last fight after all the sh*t he was talking and his team was talking, it would have been set in stone, I’m going back there to shut that man up,” said McGregor, who sounded not too keen on facing Aldo again. “But [Frankie] got slapped around in that fight, couldn’t do nothing — against a guy that I KO’d in one shot.”
Suffice to say McGregor needs to get past Diaz first before reigniting trash talk regarding other potential bouts. Both McGregor and Diaz have been training long and hard for the rematch, especially Diaz who had a little less than 2 weeks to prepare for their first encounter.
By all accounts, UFC 202 is shaping up to be the biggest UFC event in history due to the massive hype surrounding the main event. There is a lot riding on this fight for the Irishman.
If McGregor loses, he could fizzle out into obscurity and the aura of invincibility he had built would be gone (if it isn’t gone now). If McGregor wins, then the Mystic Mac train rolls on.
You can’t tell McGregor that though, who remains his usual confident self.
“I’ve just gotta see it out, see what happens after this fight. I’m the featherweight world champion. The guy I KO’d in 13 seconds is holding the interim. What does that tell you? I’m leaps and bounds ahead of that featherweight division,” said McGregor.
“They’re praying I don’t come back,” McGregor said. “Tell me one time I missed weight. I even made championship weight when I wasn’t supposed to make championship, there was no championship on the line. They’re praying I don’t come back. I’ve beaten everybody in the division.”