As much as things in the world change, the more they stay the same.
In the wacky world of combat sports, the craziest possible things have happened ever since promoters began propping their fighters up to the media and at Wednesday’s final pre-fight press conference for UFC 202 (current odds), the afternoon stayed on that course.
With light heavyweights Glover Teixeira and Anthony Johnson playing second fiddle to Nate Diaz and the fashionably late Conor McGregor, the presser was cut short after the main event combatants engaged in a shouting match that eventually led to Ultimate Fighting Championship-brand water bottles being flung into the air like grenades.
All hell broke loose after Diaz, who had been answering the assembled press’s questions, became irritated by the Irishman’s bold claims of victory and stormed off the dais. Diaz scoffed at the repeated questions of being the bigger man against McGregor when the two fought in a hastily-arranged main event at UFC 196 several months ago.
“It’s not that big of a weight advantage,” Diaz remarked. “I don’t know, but he was talking about going up and knocking out Robbie Lawler at 170 but all of a sudden I’ve got 30 pounds him. Everybody’s been making excuses. I don’t know how all of a sudden I became this monstrous heavyweight fighting Conor McGregor.”
When asked about what his thoughts were on McGregor’s claims that with a full camp to focus on the Stockton brawler rather than just 11 days, he’ll knock him out, Diaz once again shrugged his shoulders with his answer, not having any of it.
“That’s what he said last time,” Diaz said. “I think he’s got people around him trying to pump him up but … he remembers what happened in the last fight. He’s got pictures in his garage of him punching me in the face. Who does that? He’s trying to hype himself up but when he goes to sleep at night, he remembers what happened the last time.”
When McGregor showed up, he made the excuse that he thought the press conference started at 1:30, not 1:00. But in true “Notorious” fashion, he laughed it off and blamed the traffic and how big of a deal he is. McGregor was visibly not fond of doing the pre-fight stuff and immediately went into his typical antics, eliciting a mixture of cheers and jeers from the assembled fans and media.
“I’m ready to fight,” McGregor declared. “Cut all the bullshit and you know you’re going to get a show. Forget all this timekeeping and this other bullshit. I’m here.”
When one of the media members pressed the reigning featherweight champion about having a full camp this time as well as Diaz having one, that’s when the presser went off the tracks.
“We are confident in what we’ve been doing,” he said while raising his voice before Diaz exited stage left. “I’m ready for what this man is going to bring with a full camp. Bring it. Bring the clinch, bring your jiu-jitsu, bring all of f--king Stockton. Let’s see it. I’m ready for what he’s going to bring.”
From there, the two trade verbal barbs from across the theatre as Diaz walked off, talking trash with several of his team in toe. Multiple profanities and threats were thrown at each other before Diaz grabbed a water bottle and heaved it at his rival. McGregor burst from his seat, grabbed his water bottle and launched it back and then added Teixeira’s bottle.
UFC President Dana White yelled for McGregor to not engage in such antics and within a few moments, security had restrained both men. From there, an angry -- at least on the outside -- White ended the entire press conference. There’s no telling what shenanigans will unfold during Friday’s weigh-ins …