UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz is currently preparing for his upcoming title defense at UFC 199 but spared some time to talk about the always entertaining Conor McGregor.
Cruz is locking horns with Urijah Faber at the event next weekend at The Forum in Inglewood, California, bringing to boil a nine-year rivalry between the two.
However, McGregor was the burning topic when Cruz spoke to Ariel Helwani on the MMA Hour, touching on the Dubliner being pulled from July’s landmark UFC 200 event and while not picking a side, understood where the 145-pound champ was coming from.
“You can’t really side with anybody,” Cruz said on The MMA Hour. “I put myself in Conor’s shoes, I’ve lost a fight before. And when you lose a fight, it kind of puts you back to the drawing board. You hear that all the time, ‘I’m going to go back to the drawing board, I’m going to do this, I’m going to do that.’
“When you lose a fight, you’ve got to change something. He realizes he’s human now after that loss. He realizes he can lose. He hit Nate (Diaz) with everything and the kitchen sink in that first round and Nate did not back up for one second. That’s a different type of fight.”
McGregor hasn’t fought since his defeat to Nate Diaz at UFC 196 in early March. The featherweight champion jumped up two weight division and fought the Stockton native at welterweight.
While the brashness of McGregor was on display leading up to the bout, Cruz noticed one difference, Diaz wasn’t fazed by the slander-spewing Irishman and he believes that played a role in the outcome of the fight.
“We have never seen anybody stand up to Conor McGregor’s antics in the pre-fight,” Cruz said. “Every single person he’s faced prior to Nate Diaz was broken mentally, I mean shattered mentally, before they even stepped in the cage.
“You can’t break Nate. He does not care. He fights for a different purpose and he’s a real OG, for lack of a better term. The guy doesn’t care. Nate, you’re not going to break him, you’re not going to get him out of the fight. You know when you’re fighting him, you’re going to be in it from the beginning until the end. You have to push the button on him, and then you realize he’s got a heck of a chin too.
“So, I get where Conor is at. He wants to put his head down, train, focus, be the best Conor he can be because of that last loss. It can shake you when you loss like that, and his mind is focused on being the best him he can be. So I understand that.”
Having the ability to mentally break his opponent before a fight is a big attribute of McGregor’s game plan, a prime example being how Jose Aldo acted out of character before their UFC 194 bout last December.
In Cruz’s opinion, McGregor becoming a tour de force in the eyes of the media may have led to his downfall.
“When you look at what the UFC wants, they want you to do the media,” Cruz said. “Conor is a failure of his own success. He’s so good at this media that they’re going to ask him to do a ton. But I’ll be honest, if the UFC said, ‘hey Dominick, we’re going to pay you 100 times what you’re getting paid now and you’re going to make Conor McGregor money,’ I’ll go live with Ariel Helwani for my entire camp, eat everything you eat, do every radio interview you do, go out there and be ready to fight.
“So it’s like, it’s kind of a mixed thing. He’s getting paid a lot of money to do this stuff, a lot of money, and people want to see it. He’s in high demand. So, because he’s in high demand, that makes him a failure of his own success, if you get what I’m saying.”
McGregor has no opponent booked as of yet but could feature on the UFC 202 card rumored for August, wth Nate Diaz the opponent.
With the Ultimate Fighting Championship booking Stipe Miocic to fight Alistair Overeem at UFC 203 in September, it could mean the promotion already has a fight in mind for the event.
James McDonald, Pundit Arena