Conor McGregor says fans will see the real ‘Notorious’ on Saturday night when his highly-anticipated rematch with Nate Diaz headlines UFC 202 in Las Vegas.
After utterly dominating the opening round at UFC 196, McGregor rapidly ran out of gas in March, punching himself to a standstill before Diaz closed the show with a rear naked choke in the second round. Yet the Irishman insists he’s learnt from his mistakes and is predicting a vintage display inside Nevada’s T-Mobile Arena.
The 28-year-old, who still holds the UFC’s featherweight world title, used his puling power to ensure the rematch went ahead, and admits it was he who insisted on the fight remaining at 170lb – even though both he and Diaz are 145lb and 155lb’ers respectively. Conor wants revenge, and he wants it on exactly the same terms as before.
“The highs are high and the lows are very, very low. This is the game we’re in,” McGregor states when asked about the Diaz loss, the first of his incredible UFC tenure. “No one makes it out of this game unscathed, all you have to do is look at the history books. But I made my plans for revenge and that’s it.
“The fight’s at welterweight because he’s a welterweight now, he’s about 200lb. I couldn’t have made it at any weight other than the weight I lost at. I was controlling the contest, I was slapping the head off of him. I wanted to keep it as is, I wanted no changes and I got it.”
He adds: “I have reasons why I performed that way, but tune in August 20th and you’ll see the real me… He was like Homer Simpson in that fight, he just kept taking shots until I couldn’t hit him anymore.”
“I feel strong in my mind. I don’t feel defeat. True champions rise again and I’m a true champion. I look forward to rising again on Saturday night. He’s got weight, he’s got endurance and I need to go in there and put him away. I am laser focused and I have to go put him away.”
McGregor has trained specifically for Diaz in his latest fight camp. Training in Las Vegas, he’s spent over $300,000 on his camp alone, full fitting out his own private gym and flying out loyal training partners from SGB Ireland and specialists from across the US. He’s leaving no stone unturned to get his revenge.
He says: “Usually at the end of camp I’m banged up, I’m absolutely perfect. This time of the last camp I was in a bad way, the opponent change, I was banged up. This time, I’m fresh, I’m underweight and I know he’s about 200lb. It’s been a phenomenal camp and I look forward to showcasing what I’ve been doing in the gym.”
Diaz too is adamant he will also benefit from having a full camp to prepare – the first fight he took at 10 days notice and was on vacation in Cabo the week before he accepted the fight – yet McGregor, who claims Diaz “won the lottery” the first time around, doubts whether the outcome could go any better for the Stockton native.
“I’m interested to see what the boy (Diaz) has done with a full camp,” Conor says. “Let’s see what his full camp has done. I believe I am the better fighter by a long stretch. He is tough, durable and big, that’s it. He’s spoke a big game about it, so let’s see.
“I shine under those lights and I will do it again on August 20th.”