Conor McGregor has nothing but disdain for his rest of the featherweight division. | Jeff Sherwood/Sherdog.com
Conor McGregor stole the show at UFC 178, from the pre-fight hype to the event itself to the post-fight press conference.
After his first-round victory against Dustin Poirier, which netted him an additional $50,000 for “Performance of the Night,” McGregor was asked if he felt the blow that ended the fight was legal.
“Look a little closer; it was a left hook that clipped him above the ear. If it’s above the ear -- but behind the ear -- that’s a clean blow. I had a discussion with Herb Dean right before the contest happened, so it was a clean blow,” McGregor said. “I would have liked to connect with the chin. I would have liked to have connected cleaner, but there’s so much soft beautiful tissue there that if you crack that soft area, there’s no coming back from that. So look a little closer, it was a legal shot and that was that.”
UFC President Dana White also felt as though the shot that ultimately led to Dean stepping in was a clean blow.
“It looked legal to me too,” White said. “At no point did I get up and say ‘Oh man that was to the back of the head.’”
McGregor clearly wanted no asterisks placed next to the win, adding that if it had happened to him, he’d offer no excuses.
“For me, I don’t like the way people look at the referee. He [Poirier] didn’t get up and complain; he knew it was a legal shot,” McGregor said. “If I got knocked out that way, I wouldn’t be up here saying it was an illegal blow. I would recognize I got knocked out and that was that.”
The promotion for Poirier-McGregor often seemed to supercede other bouts on the card, including the main event. The build-up was so intense that it led to some heated moments at weigh-ins and during other pre-fight promotional events. For McGregor, all that goes away once the fight is over.
“In the ring he was humble. Dustin is a good kid. I had no ill feelings towards Dustin. It was weird to me that he was like, ‘I’ve never hated a guy as much as I hate this guy in my life.’ To me that’s weird. I cannot hate a man that has the same dreams as me. I have no emotion toward them at the end of the day; I’m on my journey,” McGregor said. “He’s a humble guy, he came to fight. I have nothing but respect for these competitors. Make no mistake, I am cocky in prediction, confident in preparation, but I am always humble in victory or defeat.”
With the win, McGregor suddenly finds himself near the top of the 145-pound division. When asked about whether he feels as if he is next in line for a title shot, “Notorious” offered this in way of explanation.
“As long as I show up and my check is what it says it’s going to be, then I show up and I kill whoever it is they put in front of me,” McGregor said. “Don’t try and tell me that gold belt sitting up right there wouldn’t look perfect. I know Dana wants to see it; I know Lorenzo wants to see it. It’s what the fans want; it’s what I want. I said I was going to put him away in one round. No one’s ever knocked him out. I don’t just knock them out; I also pick the round.”
As for potential opponents, including UFC 179 headliners Jose Aldo and Chad Mendes? McGregor lumps the rest of his divisional counterparts together in a less than complimentary way.
“I believe I would dismantle both of them," McGregor said. “I would maul Mendes, and Aldo is another easy win. The division seems to be full of rookies and has-beens.
“Chad is a 5-foot-6, overblown – he should be a 125-er, but he’s gone past that limit now. Now he’s just a little small bodybuilder stuck in the 145-pound division, and he gets tired quick," he added. "He’s 5-foot-6 with a 65-inch reach. I have an eight-inch reach advantage on him. I tower over him." White, meanwhile, continues to be impressed with what the Irish star brings to the table.
“I’m a believer. He did exactly what he said he was going to do,” White said.