History Denying Defeat Rewards McGregor with Incentive

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A sea of security guards surrounded the Octagon after UFC 189 and UFC 194 as fans tried desperately to celebrate with Conor McGregor. On Saturday night though, with far less exaggerated boundary to avoid, an Irish fan managed to sit down on press row following the final bout.

With a pint in his hand and tears in his eyes, the Irishman wanted any type of reassurance with regard to the future of his hero after his second round submission loss to Nate Diaz at UFC 196.

“What happens now?” he demanded of the remaining media members inside the MGM Grand. Regardless of how many different explanations he was given, nothing could console him after seeing the SBG frontrunner register his first loss inside the Octagon.

In reality, McGregor could have withdrawn from the card as soon as Rafael Dos Anjos removed himself from the occasion two weeks before the contest. No longer able to become the first man to hold two UFC titles consecutively, ‘The Notorious’ pushed the boat out even further and ventured up two weight divisions to face Nate Diaz.

An overwhelming majority of people picked the Dubliner to prevail on the night. Based on his spectacular showings at featherweight we did not imagine the size difference being as telling, his shots being less devastating, Diaz’s range playing such a significant role or, indeed, McGregor’s gas tank being emptied a lot quicker due to his extra size.

We had all been hypnotized by McGregor’s unwavering self-belief, even he was, but it became all too obvious that it could be a bad night for the Irish when Diaz cracked him a big left hand midway through the second and when ‘The Notorious’ dove in for a takedown. That particular sequence was what led to Diaz securing the rear naked choke for the win.

Interestingly, the man behind McGregor’s last cut to featherweight, George Lockhart, had insisted that the featherweight champion would need to take some time to build towards welterweight if he ever made the decision to move up. Speaking after the Dos Anjos fight announcement, Lockhart maintained that extra time would be needed to get McGregor firing at all cylinders in that particular category.

“The talk of 170 lbs doesn’t surprise me all that much, this team have their goals,” Lockhart told SevereMMA.com back in January. “Conor is an exceptional athlete and if they were going to move up to 170 I would try to suggest that they put on a little more muscle and take a little more time to work up to the weight. It’s crazy because we actually work with Robbie Lawler too!”

It seems that simply getting up to a category by eating two breakfasts a day didn’t help McGregor’s efforts outside of the first round. That being said, it is an admirable feat that McGregor took on such a challenge. The idea of another fighter moving up two weight divisions in twelve weeks seems absolutely ridiculous, but maybe McGregor became a victim of his own courage at UFC 196.

McGregor did not come away from Saturday’s event empty handed, though. The ascension to 170 lbs did not work out in his favor, and while a historic second title was what the Dubliner wanted to walkaway with, he will instead have to tend to business back at his old 145 lbs stomping ground before he gets the chance to do that again.

We have seen a lot of fighters refuse to talk about their futures after big losses, Ronda Rousey is still having trouble doing it after her November loss to Holly Holm, but McGregor came out and showed a lot of humility after his defeat at the hands of Diaz.

When I rang home to see what the reaction was like to the loss, my father, a man who barely knew what mixed martial arts was two years ago, summed up how the Irish were dealing with the defeat.

“It’s like he choked us all, that Diaz,” he said. And, as he explained, McGregor’s reaction to the second round loss had made it a lot easier for his national following. The featherweight champion was brutally honest about his performance, pinpointing where he went wrong more accurately than the most respected analysts.

It took ‘The Notorious’ about 24 hours to get his back up again. Despite him failing trying to achieve something so rare with his multi-divisional assault, he took to Instagram to declare his latest manifesto.

H said: “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 2 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 7’s.

“Thank you to the true (supporters) and fuck 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. Aldo, you are a pussy. Dos Anjos you are a pussy. 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.”

Joseph Duffy’s first round victory over McGregor made ‘The Notorious’ go on to become one of the best fighters in the world. With a chance at making history obscured by Diaz at UFC 196 and based on what McGregor has said since, the next step in the evolution of the outspoken Irish champion could be upon us in the near future.

@PetesyCarroll

Ireland's leading MMA media outlet. Home of Severe MMA Podcast. Producers of 'Notorious,' 'The Fighting Irish' & other MMA docus