Nate Diaz’s anti-authority stance and penchant for speaking his mind has helped to make him a fan favorite in the UFC, even through all of his ups and downs.
That personality has also endeared him to Conor McGregor, who Diaz will face in the UFC 196 headliner on March 5 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Diaz replaced Rafael dos Anjos after the lightweight champion broke his foot in training and had to pull out of the contest.
McGregor seemed to enjoy the profanity-laden interactions with Diaz at Wednesday’s press conference in California. Where dos Anjos or Jose Aldo might have offered little in return when McGregor got on a verbal roll, Diaz responded in typical fashion:
“F--k you. F--k the belt. I don’t give a f--k what you said, motherf---er,” Diaz said after one of McGregor’s trademark monologues.
Other than the moment when Diaz accused him of using steroids, McGregor seemed to regard the interactions with a sense of amusement.
“I like Nick’s little bro. How can you not like him? He’s like a little cholo gangster from the hood,” McGregor said. “But at the same time he coaches kids’ jiu-jitsu on a Sunday morning and goes on bike rides with the elderly. He makes gang signs with the right hand and animal balloons with the left hand. You’re a credit to the community.”
McGregor’s comments reportedly led to him being threatened on social media. The insults are simply par for the course for McGregor, who has made a living getting into his opponent’s heads during pre-fight festivities. The SBG Ireland representative dismissed the notion that mind games have greatly contributed to his success, however.
“I’m just coming in and being me. I’m being real and saying what I feel. I’m analyzing my opponent. That’s it. I’m not trying to play no games or nothing,” McGregor said. “There is no game in this. People always think it’s a game or it’s an act. But when we’re in there face to face it’s no act and it’s no game, so take your mental warfare. I’m just simply the best fighter and that’s it.”
After missing weight and being thoroughly outclassed by dos Anjos in his only appearance of 2014, Diaz rebounded in his Octagon return at UFC on Fox 17 in December, as he took an entertaining three-round verdict over Michael Johnson. McGregor was, at least by his standards, moderately impressed.
“He showed up his last fight and it was an OK performance, albeit a decision. But he showed up in shape and he talked well,” McGregor said. “I don’t give a s--t. I’m just ready to fight at this stage. This is it. Let’s see what this man is about. He talked like I took something from him. That’s what he said after the fight: I’ve taken everything he’s worked for. I work like a motherf----r. I don’t get out of shape; he gets out of shape. His fight against dos Anjos, he was the skinniest Fat Guy I’ve ever seen in my life. This time the fact that he’s asking for weight changes all the time, I imagine he got back out of shape.”
That said, McGregor is predicting a relatively short night at the office -- which has often been the norm throughout his UFC tenure.
“I feel his repetitive foot patterns and his pull motions are too predictable. He will be too slow in there. The speed will stifle him. His soft body and his lack of preparation, he will not be able to handle the ferocity,” McGregor said. “End of the first, I feel he will be put away. I respect Nate, don’t get me wrong. There’s a lot of pussies in this game, and he is not one of them. Don’t get me wrong because there is a respect there between us. But it’s business and business is business. He will be KO’ed inside the first round.”