It shouldn’t have come as a surprise that Wednesday’s press conference featuring Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz saw the pair trade insults for 20 minutes.
McGregor and Diaz have been involved in heavy verbal sparring for a number of months, but they met face-to-face on Wednesday in a hastily arranged press conference following the announcement that Diaz would replace the injured Rafael dos Anjos at UFC 196 on March 5.
McGregor began by taking aim at Dos Anjos for pulling out with what the Irishman called a bruise, and then went on to assert that he was bigger than any weight class.
“I’m prepared, I’m fit, I’m in shape, the [lack of a] belt stung for a little but it doesn’t matter what weight or what belt is on the line,’ he said.
“I should create my own belt, it doesn’t matter if it’s featherweight, lightweight or welterweight, it’s the McGregor belt.
“The only weight I give a f*** about is the weight of the cheques and my cheques are super-heavyweight.
“I’m going to create my own division. Who cares about weight? They sign and they pull, it happens to me time and time again.
“As long as there’s an opponent and a date, you’ll see me there.”
It was then time for McGregor to turn his attentions to Diaz…
“I like Nick’s little bro,’ McGregor continued. ‘He’s like a little cholo gangster from the hood but he teaches kids on a Sunday. He makes gun signs with one hand and makes animal balloons with the other.
“He showed up for his last fight in shape, it was an OK performance and he talked well. I’m just ready to fight now, let’s see what this man is about.
“The first discussion was the money issue, we resolved that, and then he said he could only make 160lb, then 165lb so I told him to get comfortable and he could step on the scales at 170lb.
“I feel his repetitive foot patterns and his motions are too predictable. He will be too slow in there; the speed will stifle him. At the end of the first, he’ll be put away.
“He comes forward but his understanding of ring control is amateurish, it’s novice where I come from.
“I’m looking forward to him coming out, I come out like a champion greyhound at 100mph so we’ll see what he’s about when the bell goes.
“People think it’s a game and an act but when we’re in there it’s no game, it’s no act, I’m simply the best fighter.
“I respect Nate but it’s business and he will be KO’d inside the first round.”
McGregor has consistently mocked Diaz for making less money than he does, and that was again a theme on Wednesday…
“How’s it feel to be a millionaire now? It’s nice, right? You’re a milly for one night only.”
McGregor added later: “I got world titles and multi-millions of dollars, you got $20,000 to show for your last fight.
“I felt pity on your broke ass, I wanted to make you rich.
“Nate, congratulations: You’re rich now.”
For the most part, Diaz was content to let McGregor do the talking, but he chimed in with accusations of steroid use which really riled McGregor.
“They’re all on steroids,” he asserted.
McGregor responded: “Steroids, what you talking about steroids? Don’t you put my name with steroids, I’m major against that. Don’t put my name with the name of steroids, Nate. The only weight I give a f*** about are the weight of them cheques and my cheques are always super heavyweight, so I don’t give a s***.”
The press conference was open to the public, and with chants of ‘Conor, Conor’ ringing around the gym, Diaz said: “Hey, this is America.”
Having seen the door opened for a jab, McGregor responded: “I run the west coast, I run the west coast, and the east coast.”
If the pair bring half the heat and edge from the press conference into Octagon we’re sure to be in for a great fight. Bring on UFC 196…