Less than 24 hours after Conor McGregor got matched up with Nate Diaz as the new main event for UFC 196, the two fighters met for a news conference in Los Angeles. McGregor and Diaz didn’t disappoint, delivering a spectacle for fans who showed up hours in advance to witness the potential melee.
Following about a 25-minute delay due to McGregor running late, the fighters took the dais with a huge ovation from the crowd.
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The online stream for the news conference peaked with more than 200,000 people watching McGregor and Diaz trade barbs across the table while security guards surrounded the area to ensure things didn’t get physical.
McGregor was asked about his options following an injury to lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos, whose broken foot forced him off the March 5 card.
McGregor says Diaz always was the leading candidate to land the fight. But it didn’t help matters that the other fighters who were offered the chance to face him in less than two weeks didn’t say yes.
"Nate for me was the leading option," McGregor said. "There were many, many options but in reality, many people pretended they wanted the fight until the fight actually presented itself. Frankie (Edgar) never shut up and then when he was given a phone call and a date, he hasn’t been seen or heard since. Jose (Aldo) also, Jose was in camp preparing in case dos Anjos pulled out, and then all of a sudden dos Anjos pulls out with his bruised foot and Jose is not fit.
"Even Nate tried to exit the fight cleanly. There was many discussions. First discussion was the money issue. We resolved the money issue. Then it was he could only make 160, we gave him 160. Then he came back, he could only make 165, so then I told him he could get comfortable and step on the scales at 170 and that’s it. We’re going to go and fight and I look forward to it."
It didn’t take long for Diaz to fire back. He stated that there was never a moment where he wasn’t willing to take the fight with McGregor, and he’s actually been asking for the matchup for months before finally landing it.
"I said yes from the beginning," Diaz claimed. "Whatever problems they had, I don’t know but I came ready to fight any weight class, it didn’t matter. There was no hesitation on my part. I was ready to rock the whole time."
From there things dissolved into a shouting match. McGregor and Diaz argued about the weight class the fight was going to take place at before they finally agreed on a welterweight showdown.
"I don’t give a f—!" Diaz screamed.
"I don’t give a f— either!" McGregor countered.
From there, McGregor erupted and blasted Diaz while taking aim at his public persona ahead of his fights in the UFC.
"I like Nick’s little bro. How can you not like him?" McGregor yelled. "He’s like a little cholo gangster from the hood but at the same time he coaches kids jiu-jitsu on a Sunday morning and goes on bike rides with the elderly. He makes gun signs with the right hand and animal balloons with the left hand. You’re a credit to your community."
Diaz fired back with an expletive-ridden tirade while also claiming that he didn’t care that this fight wasn’t for McGregor’s title or any other title for that matter.
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"F— you, f— your belt," Diaz said. "I don’t give a f— what you say, motherf——. F— your b—-h-ass belt, too."
The fighters then began discussing their salaries going into the fight, which plays right into McGregor’s wheel house as one of the highest-paid fighters in the sport. It was just a couple of short weeks ago when McGregor blasted Diaz and his payday following his recent win over Michael Johnson.
McGregor had no problem pressing that button again while shaming Diaz’s bank account in the process.
"The only thing I give a f— about is the checks and my checks are super heavy," McGregor said to Diaz. "How’s it feel to be a millionaire now? It’s nice right? Let’s be honest. It feels good. You got a million for one night only. The only weight I give a f— about is the weight of them checks. My checks are always super heavyweight!
"Most people, when they get that red panty night on me, they ring home to their wife, ‘Baby we did it!’ Nate rings Nick (Diaz), ‘Baby we did it!’ I’m happy to give Nate the paycheck."
Of course while Diaz may not be as slick with his words as McGregor, he had one of the most memorable lines of the entire 30-minute press conference when asked what he’ll be buying with his newfound fortune after UFC 196.
"I’ll probably buy a whole bunch of nice s—," Diaz said.
"They gave me a f—load of money and you know what I said? I said I want more of that s—. How about that, motherf—–? Pay me. They called me, I didn’t ask!"
When it was all said and done, McGregor gave one of his infamous predictions. And while he certainly shared more than a few bad words with Diaz during the press conference, he actually gave the UFC veteran a few compliments as well.
"End of the first, I feel he will be put away," McGregor said. "I respect Nate. Don’t get me wrong. I do respect Nate. There’s a lot of p–sies in this game, and he is not one of them. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a respect there between us, but it’s business in there and business is business.