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'Looking Back, It Wasn’t The Best Idea And It Came Back And Bit Me In The Ass'

'Looking Back, It Wasn’t The Best Idea And It Came Back And Bit Me In The Ass'
By John Balfe
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Ahead of his rematch UFC 202 rematch with Nate Diaz in August, Conor McGregor has opened up on how he has changed his preparation and what went wrong in his first meeting with the Californian in March.

McGregor was initially preparing for a fight with reigning UFC lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos before, for the fourth time in McGregor’s eight UFC fights to date, there was a late change of opponent.

I’m making a weight limit of 155lbs and then nine days before the fight they say, hey it’s 170lbs. 15lbs  is a big difference. I was on a specific diet to make that 155lb limit and then to be told, nine days out, forget that diet, you’ve actually got to eat up. My body almost went into shock and I was stuffing my face and eating everything.

McGregor, who endures a notoriously taxing cut to the featherweight limit of 145lbs, says that this extra freedom in the weight cutting process was more a curse than a blessing.

Usually when I making weight and cutting to featherweight it’s very taxing on me. I almost put myself in bubble wrap and don’t do anything non-fight related. This time I was, ‘I don’t have to make weight, I can train all day long’. I was doing 6-8 hour sessions on fight week swinging out of gymnastic rings. Looking back, it wasn’t the best idea and it came back and bit me in the ass. I was a little bit heavy around the midsection. I was over-trained. My diet wasn’t great. It came back and bit me in the ass.


With the opportunity for revenge fast approaching, McGregor says he has learned from the mistakes he made both in the cage and in his preparation and is determined to not make the same mistakes when he squares off with Diaz on August 20th.

As my coach always says, we win or we learn and I have learned and now I am focused. I am staying on my nutrition. I’m very fight orientated now. I’m not swinging out of gymnastic rings too much and I certainly won’t be doing it on fight week. Everything is specific to the fight.

For the first time in McGregor’s UFC tenure, McGregor and his coaching team are tailoring his fight camp specifically to counter his opponent’s threats. Conor Wallace, the rangy Irish amateur champion from Newry, has been brought in to mirror Diaz’s style, while Dillon Danis, a Marcelo Garcia black-belt and one of the most dangerous grapplers on the planet, has been spending time on the mat with McGregor at SBG Concorde.

For the last fight I was preparing for Dos Anjos for the Lightweight belt, a small stocky southpaw. I didn’t actually bring in any southpaws, not one. The reason why we don’t really care what the opponent is doing is because they always pull out, every damn time. This time I know Nate’s going to show up.

I’m going to be facing a tall, lanky southpaw with a decent lead hand. I have brought in tall, lanky southpaws with a solid lead hand. Guys with solid jiu-jitsu credentials and John is managing every session.

With the injury, I kind of left my cardio days behind. I didn’t wrack up the miles on the clock like I used to in my amateur days. I’ve hit the road and I’m building up my cardio that way. I’m feeling very confident in myself that I’ll go in and I’ll toy with this man.

McGregor has maintained that, for the eight minutes of the first fight at least, that's exactly what he was doing to Diaz. After winning the first round, he said that he wasn't as calm as he should have been going into the second and didn't react well when adversitiy presented itself.

I always look back and wonder what would have happened if I just weathered the storm. He was one or two shots from being done I feel. When that left hand hit he got this burst of energy. You could see it in his corner, they went insane. It was like they won the lotto. I took a couple of shots, then I shot and ended up in that submission. It was downhill from there. I wonder what would have happened if I had just kept my hands up, kept circling, took the smacks and survived.

McGregor's fans share this desire to see him face to face with the man who defeated him, while his detractors are adamant that their second bout will have the same outcome as the first. Either way, we will find out in two months time.

Picture credit: Mark J. Rebilas / SPORTSFILE

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