Conor McGregor’s loss to Nate Diaz in the UFC 196 main event ended any notion of him making a run at welterweight gold, but the “Notorious” Irishman still has a shiny belt in his possession.
McGregor, who captured the featherweight title with a 13-second knockout of Jose Aldo at UFC 194, seemed keen on the idea of returning to 145 pounds to defend his crown in the aftermath of Saturday’s upset loss.
“I know there’s a lot of people celebrating this in the featherweight division. There are many people celebrating another man’s victory. It’s something I cannot understand, how somebody not involved can celebrate another man’s victory,” McGregor said. “At the end of the day, I am the featherweight champion. I feel it is right to go back down and remind them of what I achieved and what I’ve done to that division.”
Among those celebrating McGregor’s demise at the hands of Diaz was Aldo, who took to Twitter to revel in his rival’s defeat.
“See ya at [UFC 200],” Aldo wrote. “Your fairy tale is over. You got nowhere to run now. Time to a rematch, pussy.”
McGregor was not impressed with Aldo’s reaction, especially considering that the Nova Uniao star declined to fill in when Rafael dos Anjos pulled out of the UFC 196 headliner with less than two weeks to go before the event.
“He had an opportunity to show up here and he didn’t. He could be sitting where Nate’s sitting right now. He was the first choice,” McGregor said. “He said anytime, anyplace, anywhere and it wasn’t anytime, anyplace anywhere. Now another man gets a victory over me and he celebrates it. That’s the sign of a loser. That’s the sign of a runner-up. That’s not the sign of a champion.”
For now, McGregor is not willing to commit to either Aldo or the division’s other top contender, Frankie Edgar, as his next opponent.
I”’m not sure. It’s hard to not give Aldo another go. He was 10 years undefeated. But again he pulls out and doesn’t show up a lot. Frankie at least he gets in there and competes. I don’t know. I’ll keep my ear to the ground and see who the fans want to see the most.”
While the Dublin native acknowledged that the Diaz loss was difficult to accept, that doesn’t mean he plans on taking an extended hiatus before returning to the Octagon. Instead, McGregor is eyeing a spot on the promotion’s signature card of 2016. Perhaps there, he can make his first title defense at 145 pounds.
“I haven’t stopped in a long time. it’s been a crazy couple of years. I’m still really enjoying it. I’m not tired of it,” he said. “Going back to the featherweight division I imagine will be what is next. I still feel UFC 200 is there for me. We’ll go back and see. I’m simply heartbroken and that’s it. I’ll pick myself up and we’ll figure it out in the morning.”
McGregor dismissed concerns that returning to featherweight could prove difficult after the ease with which he made the welterweight limit.
“145, it’s a cut, it’s intense, but I make it and I make it every time,” he said. “I think 145 will be next. I’ll defend my belt. I believe maybe Nate will fight dos Anjos now. I think after I defend my belt and climb myself back up I think I will get my shot at that lightweight belt once again. Maybe me and Nate can do it again.”