LAS VEGAS — Will the real Nate Diaz please stand up?
Conor McGregor said he has seen a different Diaz over the last week since their fight has been booked — not the same guy who called him out back in December.
“I think it’s as clear as day,” McGregor said Wednesday at open workouts. “He’s not himself. He’s timid, his voice is quivering. It’s a different Nate there, but I still have respect for him. But again, ring the bell, I’m coming out fast. … That’s it, his head is coming off. It’s as simple as that.”
McGregor said he didn’t get the Diaz he thought he would last week at a press conference at UFC Gym in Los Angeles. It wasn’t what the brash Irishman was expecting out of the Stockton tough.
“He has that swagger about him [usually], he’s gonna do this, he’s gonna do that,” McGregor said. “He done nothing. He just sat there and quivered. That’s what he done. And he looked at [his brother] Nick every two seconds.”
McGregor and Diaz will face off Saturday in the main event of UFC 196 here at MGM Grand. That wasn’t the initial plan. McGregor, the UFC featherweight champion, was supposed to fight at lightweight against champion Rafael dos Anjos in an attempt to become a two-division champion. But dos Anjos pulled out 11 days out of the fight due to a broken foot.
One of the reasons McGregor wanted to fight Diaz after dos Anjos got hurt was an expletive-filled rant Diaz had after his win over Michael Johnson at UFC on FOX 17 in December. Diaz called McGregor out, said he was taking money out of his pocket and said that he would be the next big-money fight for McGregor.
“He shouldn’t have said anything,” McGregor said. “He shouldn’t have said anything, I wouldn’t have even picked up the phone call. Trying to call me out, trying to do this and that. Now I came hunting for him. He’s trying to say people are afraid to fight him. I hunted him down, stalked him, got him. Now I have him trapped on Saturday night.”
At the press conference last week, McGregor took a few digs at Diaz. He said he makes “gun signs with his left hand and balloon animals with his right.” McGregor, who called Diaz a “cholo” gangster, joked last week that Diaz takes bike rides with the elderly and teaches kids jiu-jitsu on Sunday morning.
“He has this kind of demeanor about him and then, he ain’t what he portrays,” McGregor said. “That’s what I was getting to with that.”
Last week, McGregor predicted he would knock out Diaz inside the first round. He doubled down on that Wednesday, saying he hopes Diaz can last longer so McGregor can showcase some more of his skills. But he doubts it.
“I just can’t see him taking the shots,” McGregor said. “He’s gonna see a new level of precision and new level of power and a new level of unorthodox fighting that he’s never experienced in his life. I hope he can last until the end of the first, but I don’t really see it. I hope so. I hope he can take it.”
McGregor believes this fight is a culmination. Diaz is an opponent he was interested in, because of the things he has said in the past. There is a respect there. But McGregor isn’t sure Diaz is quite the person he thought he was getting when he signed the bout agreement.
“Let’s see if this man can fight,” McGregor said. “He’s talked for a bit. If you’ve been following me or him, you know there’s been subtle digs over the course of last year, maybe the last two years where he’s gonna say this and say that. Now, all of a sudden he’s a scared little brother of some sort. Let’s see what he has to say. I’m here for the fight and the check.”
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