UFC featherweight champion Conor McGregor said he had no regrets about stepping to welterweight at short notice to face American Nate Diaz after losing for the first time in his UFC career on Saturday night.
McGregor has been forced to reconsider his ambitions in the higher weight divisions and is now likely to return 25lbs down at featherweight again, where there are several challenges. McGregor had attacked the American verbally in the build-up but was unable to deliver on his promise of stopping the Californian fighter.
McGregor came in to the contest weighing 168lbs and after enjoying a successful first round with strikes and a stomp kick to Diaz’s knee, fatigued quickly and was unable to break the obdurate, experienced American in his 22nd UFC fight.
McGregor admitted that he had “not been efficient enough”. But the extra weight took its toll. There were huge risks for McGregor taking this fight as he did, and his team may look back and feel that it would have been wiser to meet Diaz at 155lbs, making his cut the weight, instead of moving up the two divisions.
McGregor said: “I stormed in and put it all on the line. I took a shot and missed. I will never apologise for taking a shot. S*** happens. I’ll take this loss like a man. I will not shy away from it. I will not change who I am. If another champion goes up two weights let me know. If you’re tired of me talking money, take a nap.”
McGregor is expected to earn an estimated $10m for his part in a fight and a build up that captured the imagination of the fans. The 27-year-old thanked his travelling support for coming to Las Vegas for the third time in eight months. “Thank you to the true support and f*** the hate that came out of the woodwork. I love it all. It’s still steak for breakfast. I’ve been here many times in my life in some form or another. I’ll eat it all and come back stronger.”
McGregor also rounded on two Brazilian rivals, former featherweight champion Jose Aldo, whom he had knocked out in 13 seconds last December, and Rafael Dos Anjos who had pulled out of UFC 196 12 days before he was due to defend the UFC lightweight title against McGregor. In his place stepped Diaz, although the contest was moved up from 155lbs to the 170lbs limit.
“Jose Aldo you are a p****. Rafael Dos Anjos you are a p****,” said McGregor. “When the history books are written, I showed up. You showed up on Twitter.” (© Daily Telegraph, London)