Conor McGregor has a message for anyone still doubting him ahead of UFC 189
Conor McGregor might be the loudest and most confident fighter in the UFC today, but even he's not immune to the criticism that gets tossed at him on seemingly a daily basis as he gets ready for the biggest fight of his career.
Ever since his arrival in the UFC, McGregor has been touting himself as the future of the featherweight division -- and thus far he's made every prediction come true with violent results.
McGregor has barely been touched through his first five fights with only one opponent -- Max Holloway -- making it to decision with the outspoken Irishman, and that was the bout where he blew out his knee that kept him sidelined for the better part of a year.
Still, McGregor hasn't fought a top-five contender in the division and hasn't faced a wrestler who could challenge his strike-heavy style. He'll certainly get that this weekend at UFC 189 when he faces former NCAA All-American Chad Mendes, but McGregor is a little tired of hearing from people who continue to doubt him.
"They'll always say something. They'll always say something to try and discredit what I am doing here. There's always going to be a question ... Every fight there is a question," McGregor said recently.
McGregor might be the most polarizing fighter in the entire UFC, but with that kind of attention also comes a mountain of criticism from all sides. Unlike a champion such as Jon Jones, who tends to rub people the wrong way but still can't be questioned because of his spotless record against a laundry list of top fighters, McGregor still hasn't amassed that kind of resume.
He's looked impressive in every fight so far, but there are still questions. McGregor says chances are no matter what happens on Saturday night against Mendes, the same critics will still dislike him and probably find another reason to try and discredit his latest accomplishment.
"Now it's the wrestler question, but no matter what and now you're talking there's going to be the interim (title) question," McGregor said. "Then when I smoke Chad, (it's) he's only had two weeks (to get ready) and there will always be something to try and discredit me. But at the end of the day cash beats credit every day of the week and that's what I'm here for.
"I'm here to shoot this man down, break that pay-per-view record and cash them big fat checks and (expletive) everybody that is doubting me."
It might appear on the surface that the pressure of becoming one of the biggest UFC stars on the planet is finally cracking that confident veneer that McGregor holds so dear, but then he starts talking about Mendes and it's clear he's not wavering one bit.
McGregor might get tired of hearing from his critics, but that's not going to stop him from dissecting every opponent -- and that includes the man who faces him for the interim featherweight title at UFC 189.
"I think Chad is the substitute, the B-level," McGregor said. "I think he's a wrestler with an overhand that gasses. You know what I mean? I think his body -- his body weight to his height and his body is in disproportion and I think that hampers him as a fighter. I think that's why he gasses and he gets that tiredness.
"And that's why, when I'm pressing him, I'm pressing him and we have these exchanges and these scrambles and his belly is going to be breathing in and his body is going to be screaming for oxygen and I'm going to be still there in his face cracking him with everything I have -- every shot, the heel, the knee, the elbow, the fist, every shot in the book I have. And that will be that. Eventually he will give like they all do. I see him gasping for breath, and I see me butchering his facial structure out there until I take the victory."
The one thing that can't be questioned ahead of his first UFC pay-per-view main event is the support McGregor receives from his home country of Ireland.
Ticket sales for UFC 189 have splintered out among countries all over the world, but the Emerald Isle will end up accounting for about 20 percent of the total attendance inside the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
For everybody else, McGregor says it's OK if you don't buy into his pre-fight rituals or the way he prognosticates his fights like he's a fortune teller. All that matters is McGregor believes in himself, and that's gotten him this far. And on Saturday night it might just score him a UFC featherweight title.
"When people say, 'I can't believe this happened,' well, I can believe it," McGregor said. "And I did believe it and that's why it happened."
Don't miss a minute of the action from UFC 189: Mendes vs. McGregor this Saturday night with our schedule and viewing guide for all the start times for this weekend's event.