For all his pomp, El Chapo shirts and amazingly wonderful sound bites that keep Internet sites and social media afloat, there is this to say about Conor McGregor: He is honest and humble in defeat.
When McGregor lost to Nate Diaz at UFC 196 in March, he did not shy away. He did not hide from the cameras, the microphones and the questions.
As the promotion ramps up for their rematch at UFC 202 on August 20, and the ideal time presents itself for braggadocio, McGregor still spoke humbly about the defeat on last week’s conference call.
“I didn’t give enough credit to Nate’s durability and his experience,” McGregor said. “He’s a very experienced fighter. He’s had more UFC fights than I’ve had fights. And also his height and his range and his reactions, I gave no respect to that. I marched forward.”
But this is Conor McGregor, the big-talking Irishman who said he would win the featherweight title by knocking out Jose Aldo in the first round, knocked him out in 13 seconds, told everyone he did it and now suggests we all watch it again because he claims it was really 11 seconds.
So, yes, expect some shareable quotes when McGregor is made available to answer questions from the media. (Of course, you can also expect the same whenever McGregor is around, regardless of who is documenting it.)
“In fairness, for the first two rounds, for the first round, round and a half he was a heavy bag with eyeballs. So I was correct in that,” McGregor said. “I struggle to give him past round three. If I were to make a prediction, which I will right now, I believe I will repay the favor and KO him inside the second round.”
Diaz submitted McGregor in the second round in March in a fight contested at welterweight (170 pounds). Diaz usually fights at lightweight (155), and McGregor is the featherweight (145) champion. McGregor was scheduled to challenge then-champion Rafael dos Anjos for the lightweight title at UFC 196, but dos Anjos pulled out of the fight with an injury inside of two weeks and Diaz agreed to step in at the bigger weight.
And bigger paycheck.
“I’ve fought everybody in the UFC,” Diaz said. “I’ve been fighting forever. So if I’m going to fight, it’s going to be a big deal fight, not just a fight.”
Diaz earned a $500,000 paycheck to fight McGregor, who became the first UFC fighter to get paid a $1 million purse for a fight.
The salaries for UFC 202 has not been disclosed yet. Still, expect both fighters to earn a large sum of money for the event.
“Make no mistake, this one means a hell of a lot to me,” McGregor said about the rematch against Diaz. “This one means more than any amount of gold or money combined. I gave up a hell of a lot of money. I gave up opportunities, Hollywood opportunities for this contest.”