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Humble Conor McGregor down to Diaz but not out after UFC 196

Lee Gormley | March 7, 2016

Humble McGregor defeated but not out

A humble Conor McGregor showed true class after his disappointing defeat at the hands of Nate Diaz in UFC 196’s main event, with the Irishman accepting his flawed performance in Las Vegas but vowed to strike back like a champion.

UFC 196 Mixed Martial Arts

The Dubliner entered the octagon to face stand-in opponent Diaz as huge favourite to prevail, despite jumping up 25 pounds to welterweight after his featherweight title heroics, but the UFC’s highest earning star was made to pay a sickening price.

For the first since exploding onto the UFC scene, McGregor suffered a setback, being forced to tap out four minutes and 12 seconds into the second round, with Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt holder Diaz locking in an irreversible rear-naked choke hold.

No regrets for downed McGregor

‘The Notorious’ had actually began his 170 pounds debut strongly in the opening round, taking the fight to his American rival, but a flurry of solid connections from Diaz was the beginning of a stunning end, as McGregor endured a third submission defeat of his MMA career.

Though, in the wake of his maiden UFC loss, McGregor humbly accepted his shortcomings, with the 145-pound champion admitting he had absolutely no regrets about jumping up two weight classes and he is odds-on 4/9 with Coral to prevail in a likely Jose Aldo rematch in the near future.

UFC 196 Mixed Martial Arts

“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**t happens. I’ll take this loss like a man. I will not shy away from it. I will not change who I am,” declared the Irishman.

“If another champion goes up two weights let me know. If you’re tired of me talking money, take a nap. I’ll still be here when you wake up with the highest PPV and the gate. Still talking multi sevens.”

‘The Notorious’ hits back at critics

Having become such a high-profile champion worldwide, McGregor faced a similar backlash to that of former women’s world title holder Ronda Rousey after her first loss last year, with many former and future opponents quick to pounce on such a setback.

“Thank you to the true support and f**k 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,” continued McGregor.

UFC 196 Mixed Martial Arts

Both Brazilians Aldo and Rafael dos Anjos sprung online to have their say on the UFC 196 shock, despite the latter withdrawing from his initially scheduled bout with McGregor, and the former featherweight champion previously turning down a rematch.

“Aldo you are a p****. Dos Anjos you are a p****. When the history books are written, I showed up. You showed up on Twitter. To the fans! Never ever shy away from challenges. Never run from adversity. Face yourself head on. Nate I will see you again.”

McGregor will bounce back

In an era that witnessed Floyd Mayweather use his flawless boxing record as the basis of claims of being the greatest to ever enter the ring, many swiftly write-off fighters in any combat sports once they suffer even a single mishap, but it’s a naive outlook, especially when McGregor is involved.

UFC 196 Mixed Martial Arts

The Dublin brawler appeared strongly in the opening exchanges in his defeat, but the problem arose when Diaz, a taller and more physical opponent, was able to withstand McGregor’s usually reliant left hand, then give even more back.

At featherweight, McGregor was a precision king able to devastatingly down Aldo in seconds and accurately take Dennis Siver apart, but panic kicked in when Diaz was able to deal with such big blows, as the Irishman then aimlessly attempted a rare takedown which led to his demise.

“I took the chance going up to 170,” stated McGregor. “But Nate came in. I felt I took him the first round. I was inefficient with my energy. I’m humble in victory or defeat. He was efficient. I wasn’t efficient.”

UFC 196 Mixed Martial Arts

With many trying to kick McGregor when he’s down, the UFC superstar’s long-standing coach John Kavanagh was quick to banish such bitter criticism, outlining his admiration.

“Couldn’t be prouder of my kid brother. He’s raised a sport to a global level and put a small island on a MMA map. People have no idea how hard he pushes himself,” declared Kavanagh.

Aldo or Edgar next on return to featherweight

McGregor had initially beefed up to challenge Dos Anjos for the lightweight crown, in a fight which would have seen him aim to become the first UFC fighter to hold two world titles simultaneously.

UFC 194 Mixed Martial Arts

Though that accolade has been put on hold after falling to Diaz, a mid-tier welterweight, who was on the losing end of a comprehensive points defeat to the Brazilian lightweight champion in 2014.

The 27-year-old has instead outlined intentions of dropping back down to 145 pounds to defend his featherweight strap, against either dethroned former champion Aldo (7/4 to win rematch) or top contender Frankie Edgar (6/5 to triumph).

“It’s kind of hard not to give Jose his shot because he was 10 years undefeated,” McGregor admitted. “But he pulls out a lot, he doesn’t show up a lot. Frankie, at least he gets in there and competes.

“I’ll keep my ear to the ground..”

“I’ll keep my ear to the ground and see who the fans want. Whatever the fans want is the fight that makes sense.”

Having moved up divisions so rapidly, the Dubliner was aware of the challenge ahead in cutting weight, and also believes he will get another crack at the lightweight strap further down the line.

Sport - UFC - Jose Aldo and Conor McGregor Press Conference - Dublin Convention Centre

“It’s a cut. It’s intense, but I make it and I make it every time,” added McGregor, who is 11/10 to beat Dos Anjos. “I think I will get my shot at the lightweight belt again. Maybe me and Nate will do it again.”

Despite enduring a shocking setback on a night which also saw women’s champion Holly Holm stunningly lose out to Miesha Tate, McGregor still holds the key to unlocking many more mammoth main events, as the relentless Irishman gets ready to pick himself up and continue to fight on like a true champion.

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