When Nate Diaz was announced as the victory by unanimous decision over Michael Johnson in his last fight, he immediately took to the microphone and unleashed an expletive-filled tirade aimed at Conor McGregor.
Despite the fact that the two weren’t fighting in the same division, McGregor says he got a laugh out of Diaz’s rant and in a way he applauded the lightweight contender for stepping up and trying to grab the brass ring.
Now less than 48 hours before they actually will face off in the Octagon at UFC 196, McGregor says he doesn’t hear Diaz saying nearly as much as Diaz did that night in December when the Irishman was not around.
McGregor says he sees fear in Diaz’s eyes as they finally get ready to square off.
All I want is a thank you or even a little dance. Dance for me, Nate. Dance for me and don’t look me in the eye when you dance.
— Conor McGregor
"This man, let’s see can he fight. Let’s see can he bring the fight. He’s talked a lot. There’s been subtle digs over the years. Now as the fight comes closer he’s like a scared little boy trying to pass the spotlight off," McGregor said about Diaz at the UFC 196 pre-fight press conference. "Trying to pass the spotlight onto Nick (Diaz). Trying to pass the spotlight onto Rickson (Gracie). Even that skinny twerp that he does the open workout with, he even tried to plug him at the last press conference. He’s trying to pass the limelight. That’s what a man does when he’s scared. He shies away and tries to pass it on. That’s what you’re seeing with Nate.
"He’s talked a lot previous. Saying he’s going to do this, he’s going to do that, now we’re up here and we’re doing this and he is saying absolutely nothing."
McGregor predicted he will pick Diaz apart within a round, but the reigning featherweight champion might be rooting for the fight to last a little longer.
As satisfying as his 13-second knockout of Jose Aldo was last December, McGregor says there are plenty of tools left in his arsenal that he’d like to show off, but he needs an opponent who can stick around past the first exchange to use them.
McGregor hopes Diaz is the man for the job.
"I’m certainly going to toy with the young boy," McGregor said. "His entries and his exits, his retreats, his feints, his patterns are all identical. He can’t break out of his set routines. He’s very, very predictable. People gave Jose the speed advantage, but that was a mistake. When the fight began, I had the clear speed advantage. I was light on my feet, zipped in and out.
"I think it will be very, very evident, the speed difference. I also know he’s heavy on his lead foot but now he’s like an injured gazelle, he’s more heavy on his left foot. So these are subtle tells that I tell. So I’m going to go in and play with him."
McGregor’s taunts about beating Diaz inside the Octagon were just the start of his verbal jabs aimed at the former "Ultimate Fighter" winner during the press conference on Thursday.
For the second time in just over a week, McGregor also took aim at Diaz’s paltry payday from previous fights compared to what he’ll cash in after UFC 196.
"Look at Nate’s last fight — $20,000 to show, $20,000 to win, not even a win bonus. His full check wasn’t even a Performance of the Night bonus, now he’s out there popping his cherry and he’s going to make his first million," McGregor said. "He really should be thankful and be grateful for this opportunity that I am giving him. Don’t talk about money, you’re broke."
And in classic McGregor style he suggested that his opponent perform for him as a show of gratitude for getting the biggest payday of his career on Saturday night, win or lose.
On Saturday night I will eat his carcass in front of his little gazelle friends and they can do absolutely nothing.
— Conor McGregor
"I could easily switch you up now and put you back on that 20 and 20 if you want. But all I want is a thank-you or even a little dance," McGregor shouted.
"Dance for me, Nate. Dance for me and don’t look me in the eye when you dance."
The bizarre exchange got more than a few laughs from the hundreds of fans who showed up well in advance of the press conference just for the chance to see the verbal sparring that took place in the David Copperfield Theater inside the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Before it was over, McGregor made one last bold proclamation before he faced off with Diaz and nearly got the main event started ahead of time. It’s also clear from his final diatribe that McGregor appears to be a really avid viewer of the Nat-Geo channel, as well, considering his animalistic comparisons for the fight on Saturday night.
"You’re like a gazelle, all bunched up together, hoping that you get spared. I’m a lion in there and I’m going to eat you alive," McGregor said. "Your little gazelle friends are going to be staring through the cage, looking at you getting your carcass eaten alive and they can do nothing. All they gonna do is say ‘We’re never going to cross this river again’.
"I’ve hunted them down. I stalked him like my prey and now I have him and on Saturday night I will eat his carcass in front of his little gazelle friends and they can do absolutely nothing."