Conor McGregor at 145 pounds was pretty damn good.
Good enough to go unbeaten in his first seven UFC bouts. Good enough to get up off the mat and finish Chad Mendes, the best wrestler he’s faced, in the second round at UFC 189. Good enough to knock out Jose Aldo, who hadn’t lost in a decade, in 13 seconds to unify the featherweight crown at UFC 194.
Physically, however, the process of getting down to that contracted weight each fight seemed to be taking its toll. As he stepped on the scale in Las Vegas ahead of his showdown with Aldo last December, McGregor was so drained and drawn out that he resembled an entirely different person. While that didn’t adversely affect his fight night performance, the “Notorious” Irishman can definitely appreciate not having to endure such a severe cut as he prepares to challenge for lightweight gold against Rafael dos Anjos at UFC 197.
“ It’s a pretty nice feeling. It’s a nice experience,” McGregor said at a recent press conference. “Steaks every day for me. Steaks for breakfast. Steaks for lunch. Steaks for brunch. Grass fed, massaged beef all day long. It’s a pretty nice feeling that my body is reaping the rewards.”
In fact, McGregor believes that dos Anjos will be the one suffering as March 5 approaches.
“I can only imagine the state Rafael is in coming off back-to-back cuts,” he said. “Especially [since] he blew up before the Cerrone fight. He was extremely overweight, and he had to cut down to make that 155-pound limit. Then the king calls and says, ‘You’re up again kid.’ And now he’s got to do it all over again.
“Just looking at him he’s aged 25 years in the last two weeks. I can only imagine how he’s feeling.”
For McGregor, there is the question as to how his skills will translate to a larger weight class, as the SBG Ireland standout was consistently the bigger man in his featherweight bouts. It also remains to be seen if he will be the same finishing threat at 155 pounds as he was at 145, where only Max Holloway has made it to the final bell against him in UFC competition.
“I feel everything will be the same. My performance has been flawless in the featherweight division. The final week has been intense, but I get in there and by the time fight time comes around, I’m fresh,” McGregor said. “I’m KO-ing everybody. This will be my fifth world title in 10 fights; all won by stoppage. My performance has been good. I feel going to 155 I will be the same animal; I will be even more of an animal.”
Although McGregor likes the way his body feels at 155 pounds, he has stated that he has no intention of vacating his featherweight belt. It is unclear when McGregor’s next 145-pound title defense will be, but it is likely that he will compete at UFC 200 in some fashion if he is healthy enough to do so.