One of the major themes that ran throughout the brief but explosive build-up to Conor McGregor’s first fight with Nate Diaz at UFC 196 was that of team vs team, the SBG squad vs Cesar Gracie Jiu-jitsu.
This was mainly spurred on by Diaz, who laid into McGregor’s training partners and coaches, comparing them unfavourably to his own, at just about every pre-fight media event.
“Who do you train with?” Diaz asked McGregor at a press conference just a couple of days prior to the bout. “You’ve got no training partners. Who do you train with? You’ve got that one little goofy (expletive) with you. I’ve got real training partners. Top-10 fighters. Top-10 boxers. Top-10 jiu-jitsu guys. Top-10 kickboxers.”
“You’re playing touch-butt with that dork in the park,” added Diaz, referencing McGregor’s so-called movement coach Ido Portal. “(The guy) with the ponytail and I’m the one who ain’t got no training partners? I don’t think so. You seem to have it all figured out when you’re fighting midgets. You got (expletive).”
“I’ve trained with Kron Gracie, world champion, best jiu-jitsu guy there is. I train with Nick (Diaz), Jake (Shields) and Gil (Melendez), top-10 MMA fighters and Joe Schilling, top-10 kickboxer. Just all-around top-10 guys and then all I see is this guy in a park with that goofball with the ponytail(via Fox Sports).”
In response to such jibes from the Stockton savage, McGregor often brought up the fact that a couple of Diaz’s teammates had tested positive for banned substances in the past.
“Juice heads and bums” was how the Irishman once categorised his rival’s training partners.
The fact that one of his teammates, Chris Avila, went on to lose quite convincingly to SBG’s Artem Lobov at UFC 202 might make Diaz hesitant to restart that dialogue should the pair be matched again in the future, but it seems that others are ready to take up from where he left off.
On Wednesday, McGregor tweeted a short snippet from an episode of The Mac Life in which he can be seen dropping some shots onto a grounded training partner. The caption read “About to kill another division”. Not long after that, current Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler retweeted the clip and it’s accompanying text, but added a little shot at ‘The Notorious’ one in the process.
— Michael Chandler (@MikeChandlerMMA) November 2, 2016
Chandler will undoubtedly be an interested observer when McGregor faces Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205 in New York on November 12th, as Alvarez is an old foe. Chandler battled the ‘Underground King’ on two occasions, submitting him in the fourth round of a spectacular war in November of 2011 and dropping a unanimous decision to the gritty Philadelphia fighter two years later.
Based on his experiences inside the cage with Alvarez, Chandler feels as though the UFC’s 155-pound king has too much for McGregor and will still be seated on his throne come November 13th. This is what he told Chael Sonnen during a recent interview.
Chandler, who won the vacant Bellator lightweight strap with a scintillating KO of Patricky Freire back in June, has a big fight of his own coming up. Exactly a week after Alvarez vs McGregor, ‘Iron’ Mike faces former UFC lightweight titlist Benson Henderson at Bellator 165 in San Jose, California.