Conor McGregor says it’s good to be back — and explains why he returned | INTERVIEW | UFC 229

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Megan Olivi sat down with Conor McGregor to talk about his extended layoff from MMA, his new fame, and more.

- So it's been a while since we've done this.

[LAUGHING]

- It's been a little while, yeah.

- What have you been up to in this time?

- Just behaving.

[LAUGHING]

- Well, of course. Yes, I know that you're always behaving. But in terms of life, I mean, we see your life on Instagram, and you do post a lot.

But then we don't know exactly what you're doing. Have you been enjoying the time off? Have you miss the sport?

- Of course I've missed the sport. I've missed competing. It's good to be back now. I'm close to winning a contest. I'm very, very excited, very happy that I'm coming to the end of a lot of hard work, a lot of heavy, heavy rounds. Now it's just focusing on the weight, and then do what I love to do, compete in front of millions of people, my fans all over the world.

- You are a star among stars now, Conor. What does that feel like for you?

CONOR MCGREGOR: I don't know. I don't really pay attention to that. I just live my life. Life is good.

I don't really pay attention to fame and those type of things. I never seek that in the first place. It's not something that interests me. Fortune, however.

- Certainly you've gotten both fame and fortune. Has it been hard to manage this new-found fame and fortune?

CONOR MCGREGOR: It's just something you've got to deal with. You've got to learn finances and how to control and manage and build finance, like you've got to learn how to box, like you've got to learn how to grapple. So that's the way I approach it, like another discipline.

I'm doing pretty well at this time. I'm still learning the game, still growing my empire. And I'm enjoying it very much, but make no mistake, competing inside the octagon in a full-on fight is what I love to do the most. So I'm very, very happy to be back.

- Yeah, and we're happy to have you back. But we had the fight with Floyd Mayweather last summer. What did you take from that experience as a whole?

CONOR MCGREGOR: It was an experience that went to a completely different game. New media, new people, new fans, new questions, just a new experience. And any time you put yourself into an uncontrollable situation, you will grow as a person.

So that's what happened to me. I put myself out there, put myself into an uncomfortable situation, a situation I'm not as familiar with, and that's it. I grew as a person, as a fighter, as an athlete. Now here I am, back into my game, the game I run. It's good to be back here, under MMA and ready to go again.

- Did you know Muhammad Ali's daughter and her family were rooting for you in that fight?

CONOR MCGREGOR: I did not know. I know Floyd has been very disrespectful towards Muhammad Ali. I was actually quite shocked when I heard of it and saw it. But maybe that is one of the reasons why. But that's good to know.

- Yeah, I should show you the quote. She had some phenomenal things to say about you. She said she's watched your entire career, and that you are sort of the epitome of what her dad was. From the way you speak to the way you perform, it reminds her of her dad, and that's why they root for you.

- I appreciate that very much. I always appreciate the comparison. I'm quick to say I am not anywhere close to Muhammad Ali. That was a special man, and I'm just a simple young kid from Crumlin, Dublin, Ireland. And I'm here looking for a fight.

- I like how you still think of yourself that way, because I think all of us see that you are changing things for a lot of people. What's been sort of your proudest accomplishment so far?

- The birth of my son, without hesitation. That's the next champion. Make no mistake about that.

- Do you look at life differently, or how you make decisions differently, because you have him now?

- Of course. Everything is for my little family.

- You treat your friends like family as well.

Before the teams got involved in this match-up between you and Khabib, was that a fight you wanted? Did you want him next?

- I was excited about competing against him.

ANNOUNCER 1: Khabib Nurmagomedov!

ANNOUNCER 2: He is undefeated, 26-0.

- I'm not really impressed that much by his record. It's a pretty-looking record. But if you dig deep, it's not that pretty. I think it's very deceiving. Everyone seems to put him on a pedestal. He's this, he's that. And I don't see it. He's a bit timid when it comes to taking a shot. He does not like to take a smack.

ANNOUNCER 2: Look at that. Oh!

ANNOUNCER 3: But Iaquinta having some moments now.

CONOR MCGREGOR: If you don't like to take a smack and you fight me, you're in for a long, long night.

- Do you feel like Khabib is a fake champion?

CONOR MCGREGOR: I mean, he fought an unranked novice. I would say, I don't believe he is champion. I don't believe Ferguson is champion. I believe they know that, especially now that the real champion is back.

- Do you feel like your striking is the answer here?

- Yeah, one hundred percent my striking will be the answer. But I hope there is grappling exchanged. I hope I don't go in here and just spark this man real quick.

I've heard many people say I'm just a left-handed fighter, which is very disrespectful to me. There's many skills in my arsenal. I hope we get a chance to show that, and we can make a fight out of it, and I can showcase some skills that maybe have been forgotten by the mixed martial arts public who have saw me compete in the boxing bout last year. Here I am returned to take back my throne.

- We will be there watching. We appreciate your time, Conor. Thank you.

- Thank you, Megan. As always, thank you.

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