Conor McGregor watched featherweight champion Jose Aldo and challenger Chad Mendes do battle for five rounds in the fall of 2014. It was one of the best fights in MMA history, and the Irishman was initially quite impressed.
"I’ll tell you what — I looked at that fight, ringside, and thought to myself, ‘Wow, this Chad Mendes guy, he hits like an animal. He’s a dangerous, dangerous man,’" he recently told reporters.
Of course, McGregor would himself lock up with Mendes last July at UFC 189. After his second-round TKO victory, McGregor was suddenly a whole lot less impressed with "Money" Mendes.
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"Then I went in there myself, and realized he hits like a bitch," he continued.
"If anything, it showed me that these people aren’t on my level."
McGregor won’t just head into Saturday’s UFC 194 main event in Las Vegas against Aldo with his usual hubris. He’ll also do it refreshed after a training camp spent at home in Dublin and the Straight Blast Gym: Ireland.
McGregor trained for UFC 189 in the Nevada desert. That dry heat just doesn’t feed the mystic’s soul the way the cool air of Ireland does.
Now, McGregor says he’s healed from the knee injuries he said he suffered leading up to UFC 189, and he’s in prime condition. "Yeah, 100 percent," he claimed.
"My best work is always done at home. I’m a homeboy. I love my country very much. The air in Ireland is absolutely beautiful.
"That last fight, I prepared in the desert air. This one, I prepared in the fresh air of Dublin. Cold air. That good field. Good grass. Good everything. My body has responded well. I’m in the best shape of my life, and I’m going to go in there and perform."