Editor’s note: Several months ago, Conor McGregor was on top of the world. But one loss to Nate Diaz, one faux retirement and a few flying water bottles later, he’s in a much different place. As he heads into a make-or-break rematch with Diaz this weekend at UFC 202, we revisit a still-pretty-damn interesting Q&A with “The Notorious” before his previous trip to the Octagon…
Lots of athletes can talk and lots can walk, but very few have combined braggadocio and actual performance quite like Conor McGregor.
In a relatively short period of time, the charismatic Irish warrior went from receiving welfare checks to raking in outrageous fortune, becoming the UFC Featherweight Champion and reaching no. 3 in the official UFC pound-for-pound rankings. During a packed press conference for UFC 196—which takes place next weekend in Las Vegas—McGregor was his usual outrageous self, talking smack about his skills, his bank account and his new opponent, Nate Diaz, the veteran replacement for the injured Brazilian UFC lightweight titleholder, Rafael dos Anjos.
Read on to see what the always-confident McGregor had to say about his upcoming welterweight bout.
“The only weight I give a fuck about is the weight of those checks, and they are all super heavyweight. So I don’t give a shit!”
You are now fighting in two divisions, do you like breaking the rules?
I am the only rule in this game.
Does it matter what weight division you fight at?
I am going to create my own division. Who cares about weight? They sign and they pull out—this has happened to me time and time again, my whole career. I don’t care about weight. It makes no difference to me. As long as there is an opponent and a date, you will see me here and that’s it.
I’m prepared. I’m fit. I’m in shape. It doesn’t matter what the weight divisions are or what belt is on the line. Really, I should create my own belt because I am my own belt! Doesn’t matter the featherweight, the lightweight, the welterweight, this is the Macgregor belt. That’s what I am fighting for!
The only weight I give a fuck about is the weight of those checks, and they are all super heavyweight. So I don’t give a shit!
“People always think it’s a game or an act, but when we meet face to face, it’s no act and it’s no game. I’m just simply the best fighter and that’s it.”
UFC President Dana White said that you are the greatest mental warfare fighter he has ever met. How big of a role do you think your pre-fight mind games play in your fights?
I am just coming in and being me, being real. I say what I feel, analyzing my opponent and everything. I am not trying to play no game. There are no games in this. People always think it’s a game or an act, but when we meet face to face, it’s no act and it’s no game. I’m just simply the best fighter and that’s it.
What makes you so successful?
Real true hard work. It’s a simple as that. It can’t be denied. It can’t be stopped… I work like a muthafucka.
“I wake up, I work, I eat and I sleep. That’s it. Nothing else. All day long, I work.”
Now that you are making the big time cash, have you splurged on anything?
You know what, I don’t know, I just enjoy the conversations with the ladies at the bank. They treat me so damn nice—and people everywhere have been so damn nice. There is a place in California called Rodeo Drive, and I swear to God, there’s such a welcoming feeling that they give you when you walk into these shops. The materials that they give you and put on your skin—until you felt that, you cannot speak about this life. I just enjoy everything about this.
What is your pre-training ritual?
I wake up, I work, I eat and I sleep. That’s it. Nothing else. All day long, I work.
“We have a similar will, but the skill doesn’t match the will. And that’s where the difference will be.”
Why do you think you have you been successful in dealing with these last-minute changes, when these fighters sign up and then at the last minute pull out because of an injury?
I have never prepared for an opponent, I simply prepare for the fight. And when they pull out, it makes no difference to me. Who can turn down winning the lottery for one night only? And that’s it. When you sign to fight me, you are rich. It makes no difference if they pull out, because there will always be a replacement and I will always still be in the mix.
Are you excited to fight Nate [rather than] Raphael?
I am just happy to fight. I have always enjoyed [Diaz’s brother] Nick and Nate and their style of fighting. They come to fight and I like that. I knew somewhere down the line, myself and Nick or Nate would throw down. Now that I am here, I am happy, and I am enjoying myself. And the fight is going to be a fun contest. The fans will enjoy it. I think between myself and Nate, we have a similar will, but the skill doesn’t match the will. And that’s where the difference will be.
What motivates you in the ring?
I am just motivated by movement and money. And the movement of money. That’s it—that’s why you see me in this prize fighting ring and running this whole game. I enjoy movement of the body and movement of the money. It’s my favorite.