It's interesting how quickly the MMA world moves. If you told us this time last year that UFC 200 would be headlined by a women's bantamweight bout that didn't involve Ronda Rousey, and that a rematch between Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz would be the biggest fight the UFC could possibly make, we would probably have laughed in your face.
But that's exactly where we find ourselves today and just a few weeks away from their rematch, Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz stood toe-to-toe yesterday for the first time since their first bout turned the MMA world upside down and while the press conference wasn't quite as caustic as the now legendary back-and-forth that occurred on the eve of their last fight, it still served to up the ante ahead of the biggest challenge McGregor will have faced yet in his career.
In news that will not go down particularly well with whoever wins the Jose Aldo vs Frankie Edgar fight, McGregor said that he anticipates a third fight with Diaz down the line but not before he defends the featherweight title he won last December from Aldo.
I giggle when they try and take that credit from me for going up to this weight and fighting at 170lbs. They try and say it’s just a fight he’s not cutting weight for and all this bullshit.
Make no mistake, I am the undisputed 145lbs UFC champion. That is my division — a division I have destroyed. Saturday night, two fighters get to fight, rise up and see where we are. But make no mistake, that 145lbs division is my division. I am the world champion at that weight and I will continue to dominate that division.
I have other business that has presented itself, that I must handle first. But make no mistake, 145, 155, these are all my divisions and I will continue to come back and dominate them.
I feel we’ll enter into a trilogy fight. Why not? It was a great fight the last time, I really enjoyed it.
Conor McGregor vs Nate Diaz tickets on-sale July 15!!! #UFC202 pic.twitter.com/AEQSXiWEg7
— danawhite (@danawhite) July 7, 2016
This is the first official UFC engagement that McGregor has made since his second round submission loss to Diaz four months ago and, though he didn't seem any less confident in himself, his chatter was a little more restrained than we have witnessed in the past.
That said, he did open up as to how the first loss to Diaz led to him changing his preparations ahead of the rematch. McGregor has been training with sparring partners who have been brought in to SBG Ireland to directly mimic the Californian's style. This is a significant sidestep from his gym's famous "there is no opponent" mantra which, to be completely fair, brought the Dubliner seven victories in his first seven fights in the UFC.
I'm preparing for a tall, lanky ugly Mexican southpaw. August 20 is my date, UFC 202, the real UFC 200, and I will have my redemption. All my sparring partners are six foot plus – I’m sparring with all middleweights.
Conor Wallace, the rangy 20-year-old amateur boxing champion from Newry, will join McGregor for the Las Vegas leg of his training he announced recently. World class grappler Dillon Danis and Dutch kickboxing sensation Robbie Hageman have also spent time with McGregor in preparation for the Diaz rematch.
McGregor also suggested that his famous 'thanks for the cheese' tweet was regrettable, saying that he "messed up" how he communicated his feelings about media obligations to the UFC but the real learning from the conference was just how much erasing his loss means to the Dubliner.
I underestimated his durability and experience - I will not do that again.
We'll find out if McGregor can back that up on August 20th.