The king is back. Or so he says.
Last weekend, Conor McGregor defeated Nate Diaz at UFC 202 by way of majority decision. One would call it a revenge win for McGregor, after he tapped out to Diaz back in March at UFC 196.
Both fights took place at the 170-pound welterweight division, with McGregor having to make the late jump up from 155 pounds, after his original UFC 196 opponent — lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos — pulled out with a foot injury. That fight was already a jump up in weight for McGregor, who had previously won the featherweight championship at 145 pounds.
After his win on Saturday, McGregor expressed his desire to return to a lower weight class.
“I came up to 170, faced the bigger man, overcame adversity,” he said while standing in the octagon. “Now you want this trilogy? It’s on my terms. Come back down to 155 and we’ll do it.”
McGregor began the post-fight interview by grabbing the microphone and screaming, “Surprise, surprise mother [expletive], the king is back!”
As he then proceeded to talk about a trilogy with Diaz, I wondered what exactly he was calling himself the king of. The king of the money game, or the king of the fight game?
First thing’s first. If you think there won’t be a third fight between McGregor and Diaz, you’re nuts. The question is, whose terms will it be on? Will it be on McGregor’s at 155 pounds? Will it be on Diaz’ back at 170? Or will it be on Dana White’s?
According to White, a McGregor/Diaz trilogy won’t be happening right away. White either wants McGregor to defend his featherweight title against interim champion Jose Aldo at 145, or, give up his featherweight title and face current lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez.
This is what White is saying publicly, at least. Privately, you have to think he’s already planning where and when McGregor/Diaz III will take place. But again, on whose terms?
If McGregor wants to be the king of the fight game, he should certainly stick to his guns on making Diaz come down to 155. Either that or just avoid a trilogy with Diaz altogether.
Even going into UFC 196, I told you I didn’t agree with McGregor stepping into the octagon with Diaz. The risk was far greater than the reward. Diaz wasn’t a no-name fighter in UFC. But compared to what McGregor was, heading into that first fight back in March, Diaz was, in fact, a nobody.
When I called him that on my podcast over the winter, the MMA season-ticket holders came out throwing haymakers, defending Diaz and his status in UFC. Considering McGregor’s status in the sport, I’m sorry, he didn’t need to go anywhere near a Diaz fight, not at 170.
But money talks. And next thing you know, McGregor was bulking up and taking on an opponent that he didn’t have to, on terms that weren’t his.
What happened? The “king” was humbled. Down on the mat. In a chokehold. Tapping out.
It’s one thing to talk the talk. It’s another thing to walk the walk. McGregor had always done both. Then he and White got greedy. They took it too far. They entered a fight they didn’t have to be in.
Now that McGregor has his revenge, it’s time to get back to being the king of the fight game. It’s time to get back down to 145 or 155 and dominate. Talk the talk. Walk the walk. Be the king.
Just make sure you do it on your terms.