The world of MMA is still buzzing following the ‘fight for the ages’ rematch between Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz.
In what was to become a fight of validation and redemption for the UFC featherweight champion, McGregor’s victory over Nate Diaz gave us yet another memorable example of just how different the Irishman is from other fighters in the promotion.
It was during the pre-fight press conference last week, where the media and fans were treated to a bizarre bottle throwing episode between the two fighters, followed by a frantic looking McGregor at the weigh-in, that led people to suggest that perhaps he had cracked and let his opponent wind him up, rather than what is normally the other way around.
However, since the seismic event in Las Vegas, we have learned that yet again, the ‘Notorious’ one had once again taken the art of the mind game to another level. Speaking to Ariel Helwani during his MMA Hour slot after the fight, McGregor’s coach, John Kavanagh, revealed his fighter’s apparent state of mind had even caused him some concern.
“I had a plan to sit down and do this [refocus] speech with him. After the weigh-ins, we were backstage on our own and he just looked at me, dead in the eye, cold, and said, ‘The illusion of insanity is over. Now it’s time for the game-plan’.
“He stood up there and did the screaming, the posturing and just came back off-stage and, like a serial killer, he looked at me said that. It blew me away.”
This is just the latest in a series of moments McGregor has shown his superiority over all others in the sport.
“The illusion of insanity is over. Now it’s time for the game-plan.”
No other fighter has uttered anything so profound or telling. McGregor was toying not just with his opponent, he was toying with us all.
But then, the undisputed featherweight champion has always had a way with words. Ever since his arrival in the promotion in 2013, his linguistic gymnastics have been as memorable as his performances.
So, as we vicariously bask in his successes from UFC 202, here are five of the fighter’s best quotes to date.
Following his July 2014 victory over Diego Brandao, McGregor declared to Joe Rogan in the octagon, when referring to the Irish in the UFC:
“We’re not here to take part. We’re here to take over.”
At a UFC Fight Night press conference in January 2015, the media were treat to this beauty:
“It’s tradition. I remove a head, I bring it backstage, I place it on Mr. Fertitta and Mr. White’s desk. ‘Here you go boss. Another one done.’ And then we discuss big business.”
When speaking of comments then UFC Featherweight champion Jose Aldo made in March 2015,
“For [Aldo] to say he is the king and I am the joker, if this was a different time, I would invade his favela on horseback and kill anyone that was not fit to work. But we are in a new time. So I’ll whoop his ass in July.”
Following his crushing defeat to Nate Diaz in March of 2016, a gracious McGregor admitted:
“This is the game. We win some, we lose some but I will never shy away from a challenge. I make no excuses. It is what is it. I came up short. I took a chance, it didn’t pay off. I’ll be back. It’s a tough pill to swallow but we can either run from adversity or we can face our adversity head on and conquer it. And that’s what I plan to do. “
Finally, of his approach to fighting, revealed after he decimated Jose Aldo in December 2015,
“Timing beats speed… precision beats power. “
Conor McGregor has changed the sport of MMA, both in his actions and words. He divides opinion, earning devoted fans and fervent detractors alike. What is clear, however, is that through it all, he is enjoying every minute.
While his pre-fight trash talk is not for everyone, the spotlight he has shone on the sport has been to the benefit of all involved. It is more popular, more lucrative, more mainstream now with McGregor in it.
Long may it last because when the man from Crumlin does walk away, as all the greats do, the promotion will be like a nightclub after the lights come on; bemused faces everywhere, uncomfortable in the sudden silence, wishing for the party to never end.
Gary Brennan, Pundit Arena