Conor McGregor has a myriad of options for his next trip to the Octagon after earning a majority-decision victory over Nate Diaz at UFC 202 – but the Irishman is unsure where he will go next.
The 28-year-old was able to avenge the only defeat of his UFC career after five barbarous with Diaz, the man who submitted him in the second round at UFC 196 in March. It was a back and forth war, built on the hostilities between the pair, and with the two tied at one a piece, fans have been left thirsty for the trilogy.
However, with McGregor holding the belt at 145lbs – he’s fought Diaz twice at the welterweight limit of 170lbs – after he knocked out Jose Aldo in just 13 seconds in December, UFC president Dana White has insisted he return to featherweight to defend the strap.
Aldo is the interim champ after defeating Frankie Edgar at UFC 200 but the divisive Irishman poured cold water on a potential rematch.
“How long was I going back and forth with Jose?” asked McGregor in the post-fight press conference. “That was a two-year build up. He pulled out last minute and I continued to fight someone else. Then we rescheduled. A two year build up, around the world for that boy, and then I stepped in to beat him in thirteen seconds.
‘”I mean, it’s hard for me to get excited about that, especially after his last performance. He didn’t go out and get it like I wanted him to.
“I don’t know. We’ll see. I’m the 145lbs champion. The interim champion is a man that I KO’d in 13 seconds. I’ve got to figure out what’s next, but right now, I don’t know what’s next. There are many things in the pipeline. So, sit tight.”
Indeed, McGregor has decisions to make but his star draw has never been brighter. Many had predicted a repeat feat for Diaz in the headliner of UFC 202 in Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena.
But having achieved victory in a weight class two above where he resides as a UFC champion, McGregor professed that silencing his doubters was a significant motivation for him.
“This was a hell of an important fight for me,” he added. “Everyone, from the media to the fighters, wrote me off for this one. They tried to say if I lose this one, I’m done. They tried to discredit the fact that I’m going up in weight. He was 25 to 30 pounds heavier than me, I don’t care what anyone says.
“He was a big boy in there. He was easily 190lbs. I was 167lbs leaving for the fight and I was saying to myself, I need to eat, try and get up at least over 170lbs.
“But it was a hell of a fight and he’s a hell of a competitor. The whole lot of it brought out the best in me. It forced me to look at myself truly. I’m just grateful.”
In the Octagon after his victory was announced, McGregor called for a trilogy fight to be contested at the lightweight limit of 155lbs.
When asked if he’d be happy to drop back down to his more natural weight, Diaz said: “Whenever. Whenever they’re ready to rock. I’m not doing s*** 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. It’s not that I’m waiting but I don’t need to do nothing.”