Ultimate Fighting Championship featherweight titleholder Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz have begun to fan the flames for their forthcoming rematch.
McGregor will meet Diaz in the UFC 202 main event on Aug. 20 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, where he will try to avenge his rear-naked choke submission loss to “The Ultimate Fighter 5” winner. Diaz tapped the Irishman in the second round of their UFC 196 encounter in March, and McGregor vowed to learn from his mistakes.
“I feel absolutely amazing. I’ve prepared phenomenal,” McGregor said on Friday during a pre-fight media call. “I did not give enough credit to Nate’s durability and his experience. He has more fights in the UFC than I do [total] fights. Also, [you have] his height and his range and his reactions, and I gave no respect to that. For the first two rounds, he was a heavy bag -- and I was correct in [thinking that] -- but his durability held out. I’ve been preparing for that, and I feel very confident that I can put this man away.”
McGregor claimed to have walked away from lucrative opportunities outside the cage in order to prepare for his rematch with Diaz.
“Make no mistake, this one means a hell of a lot for me,” McGregor said. “It means more than any amount of gold or money. I gave up big money and Hollywood opportunities to take this fight because I wanted to focus solely on this fight.”
Diaz took a different stance on the matter.
“I fought everybody in the UFC,” he said. “I’ve been fighting forever. If I’m going to fight, it’s going to be for a big-deal fight and not just ‘a fight.’ I was the biggest draw in every weight class, and then Conor came around and everybody was all about Conor McGregor. I’m not going to fight just to fight. I can make just as much money outside of the ring as inside the ring. If I’m not going to have a big fight, then I’m not going to [expletive] around anymore.”
Both men espoused confidence in their abilities, with McGregor displaying the bravado for which he has become known and predicting the outcome.
“I backed him up and put him against the fence, and I teed off on his head,” McGregor said. “I did everything I said I was, but I’m going to be a lot more prepared for a man who will stay in there with me. I believe I will repay the favor and KO him inside the second round.”
On the subject of a trilogy, the two rivals were in agreement, in the event McGregor wins at UFC 202.
“Who wouldn’t want a rematch with somebody who beat him?” Diaz asked.
“One hundred percent, of course” McGregor said. “Most certainly this will be a trilogy fight. Me and the boy have something, and it ain’t finished yet.”