Conor McGregor has never been shy about looking ahead when it comes to his mixed martial arts career.
But as his rematch with Nate Diaz at UFC 202 approaches, the boastful Irishman has narrowed his focus. Avenging the sole loss of his Octagon tenure is paramount, and any discussion of a future featherweight title defense will have to take a backseat for now.
“I haven’t really spoke about it to anyone about what’s next. Who knows what’s next?” McGregor said during a recent conference call. “Right now I’m [less than two weeks] away from a war and I’m ready for the war. So that’s all I’m thinking of right now. So let’s have this war.
“He’s [Diaz] been talking about full camp this and that. ‘I’ve only had ten days to prepare, if I had a full camp he wouldn’t even be able to hit me.’ Well let’s see what that’s about, let’s see what all that’s about.”
Diaz submitted McGregor in the second round at UFC 196 after taking the fight on short notice. McGregor was originally supposed to challenge then lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos for his title before the Brazilian withdrew from the bout due to injury.
The loss to Diaz changed the trajectory of McGregor’s path in the UFC and forced the promotion to create an interim featherweight belt as the champion pursued a new rivalry. The man McGregor vanquished to claim 145-pound gold, Jose Aldo, has since re-established himself in the division with a five-round verdict over Frankie Edgar at UFC 200.
McGregor was happy to see Aldo rebound, but reiterated that his lone concern for now is Diaz.
“I’m looking forward to going in there and having this fight with this man. Something I’m really, really looking forward to and f—k everything else. To see Aldo come back and win that fight against Frankie, I was happy for Aldo,” McGregor said. “When you see a long-time champion get knocked down like that, the way I knocked him out, I said it then: I felt sorry for him a little bit.
“That was why I was there, I wanted to see, if this motherf—-er comes through this and can do what he’s saying, well then it’s on. For now, Aldo’s taken that belt again.”
Although they have only fought once, McGregor and Aldo are plenty familiar with one another due to the extensive promotional push their matchup was given, something that lasted longer than expected when Aldo wasn’t able to fight at UFC 189.
Perhaps that is also why McGregor isn’t open to speculation at this point. He still feels there is uncertainty surrounding not only his rematch with Diaz, but with a future return date against his Brazilian rival.
“I was scheduled to fight Aldo many times. We had a two-year media run. I spent so much time with that man and then he pulled out. Then we finally got into it and it took me one shot to the crown to shut his lights out,” McGregor said.
“I don’t know what I’m thinking. Right now, I’m prepared for a war and that’s it.”