Conor McGregor: ‘They said I was done and it lit a fire under me’

Conor McGregor: ‘They said I was done and it lit a fire under me’

Joe Callaghan reports from the T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas.

He didn't look it, he didn't quite sound it either, but Conor McGregor insisted he was 'perfect' after the most punishing night of his life in Las Vegas on Saturday.

The Dubliner dove deeper into his resolve than ever before to narrowly outlast Nate Diaz in an utterly ferocious five-round fight in the headline act of UFC 202. The majority decision victory meant revenge had been secured but it was unclear if McGregor could yet taste how sweet it was given just how much of a punishment both he and Diaz had taken.

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McGregor came to the post-fight press conference on crutches but insisted all was rosy.

"It's just my shin," he said After reports that he had broken his foot in battle. 'I kicked his knee clean, I think it was in the first round and then I just kept kicking but other than that I'm perfect."

That was debatable. It would have been impossible for any fighter to emerge from such a gruelling battle form of good health.

"It was not easy...It was a war," admitted McGregor, who had never gone four rounds in his professional career, never mind five. "I got to show my heart in there. I took it to him and stayed in it and got the win so, I'm very happy.

"I dropped him multiple times and he keeps coming. His face was busted open but he kept coming forward. He's a hell of a competitor. The whole lot of it brought out the best in me, forced me to look at myself truly."

UFC 202, T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas. Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz. Picture: INPHO/Tom Hogan
UFC 202, T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas. Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz. Picture: INPHO/Tom Hogan

Diaz had enjoyed a career night in a UFC life that has not always been kind during his stunning submission of the then undefeated McGregor in March. It might not have felt like it when he lost by the narrowest of margins, but this classic added even more to his reputation.

Having been told he needed to win the fifth round by his corner, he did exactly that with a takedown at the death. It had been just too little, too late. Still, when the bell sounded, he reached down and picked McGregor off the canvass in a stirring show of sportsmanship.

"The fight was over. We just fought 25 minutes. He tried, I tried to take each other out and it didn't get done," said the Californian. "It's like, 'Hey man, until next time, it's all good, until we're set to go again it's all good'. What do you want to me to do -- keep kicking the guy while he was down. It's all good, the fight was over."

Diaz insisted his next outing will only be a rubber match against McGregor.

"Whenever. Whenever they're ready to rock," he added. "I'm not doing shit until round three. You're not going to see me until then. If they want to set it up as soon as possible, let's do it. We'll see what happens."

McGregor agreed that he was keen to give the mixed martial arts world what it wants with a third instalment but didn't commit to it as an immediate option. He was happy to reflect on standing big on a big night.

"This was a hell of an important fight for me," admitted McGregor, whose rocketing reputation was slowed significantly by that submission in March. "Everyone from the media to the fighters wrote me off this one. They tried to say if I lose this one, I'm done. They said I was done and it certainly lit a fire under me. Every single person doubted me. Every single fighter doubted me. Doubt me now.”

On a night when he confirmed his status as the biggest draw in combat sports, it's clear that McGregor is far from done.

“We’ll see. We’ve got a lot to talk about, but I’m in beautiful, beautiful position now and that was built on hard work," he said. "I’m going to capitalize on that."

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