UFC featherweight champion Conor McGregor spoke with Brett Okamoto for ESPN about his submission loss to Nate Diaz at 4:12 of round 2 at UFC 196 in March. The fight was moved from 155 to 170 to accommodate Diaz who took it on 11 days notice, and there after McGregor says he stopped working with nutritionist George Lockhart. He reported that he ate whatever he wanted and felt great. However, the excess energy compared to what he usually feels during a cut led him in a direction he now questions.
“The first eight minutes of the fight was easy,” said McGregor. “Let’s be honest, I slapped the head off him. Once the gas tank went, that was it. I drowned. He landed that one punch that rang the bell and went, ‘[Gasp,] I’m back.’ He was close to being done. One or two more shots and he would have been wrapped up.
“Swinging on gymnastic rings on fight week isn’t the best thing. Usually, I wrap myself in bubble wrap and only do fight-specific things, but just because of that weight, no weight cut, I had put it in my head that, ‘I’m free.’ I had energy to burn. I was doing so much bounce footwork, the balls of my feet were burned to a crisp. Looking back, it was ridiculous. I don’t know what I was thinking.”
McGregor now works with Lockhart year round.
“Look at me right now,” said McGregor, eating a nutritious lunch, with no fixed fights. “Fish, red cabbage, asparagus — I’m nowhere near a fight ,and I’m on the clock with nutrition.”
McGregor vs. Diaz was supposed to be the main event at the historic UFC 200, but the Irishman was pulled from the card in a fight over media duties, and the pair may instead fight at UFC 202. In the mean time, Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar are fighting at UFC 200 for an interim belt.
“It was my idea,” said McGregor. “I wanted to have my revenge at 170, and they’re crying and complaining about the 145-pound belt, which I just won three months ago. That division was killed, it was dead. Jose went down in 13 seconds. What more can I do? I traveled the world with that man. I finally got him in the Octagon, and he only lasts 13 seconds.
“I didn’t see a challenge there anymore. So, I wanted to create interest from a fan’s perspective and my perspective. I want to see them two go at it, with an interim belt on the line. Then I will see people walking around my division with a belt and that will intrigue me. It will make me want that belt again.”