Conor McGregor had a simple message for his new challenger Nate Diaz ahead of next month’s UFC 196 headline bout.
“Congratulations Nate, you’re rich.”
But the Califiornian wasn’t in celebratory mood, as he took the chance to accuse McGregor – and the rest of the UFC – of taking performance-enhancing substances.
Diaz said: “You’re on steroids, the whole UFC is on steroids.”
To which McGregor sarcastically replied: “Sure, I am. I’m just an animal.”
But the Irish fighter added his opposition to the idea of performance enhancing drugs once Diaz pushed the suggestion further. He fumed: “‘Don’t put my name with steroids. I’m against that shit. ”
The fight was arranged after McGregor’s original opponent, Rafael Dos Anjos, pulled out of UFC 196 with a broken foot. The featherweight champion had no sympathy for Dos Anjos when speaking at a press conference in California ahead of the bout in Las Vegas on March 5.
The brash brawler dismissed the injury and even claimed that he knew all along Dos Anjos wouldn’t compete.
“I was expecting Dos Anjos to pull out,” the 28-year-old said. “I saw the picture and guess what? Ice works wonders. Maybe even a little bit of ibuprofen as well.”
Having already conquered the featherweight division, McGregor intends becoming the first UFC fighter to hold belts at two different weights at the same time.
The fight next Saturday was due to be a lightweight belt with Dos Anjos. But his withdrawal means the contest steps up another weight to welterweight against Diaz. McGregor shrugged off any disappointment.
He blasted: “The only weight I care about is the weight of them cheques, and they are super heavyweight…I run the west coast and the east coast.”
McGregor also left the assembled media and fans under no illusions as to who organised the replacement opposition.
“I am the one who created this”, he roared, “Nate, for me, was the leading option.”
He then took the opportunity to take a pop at other opponents who turned down the fight. Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar both turned down the chance to take Dos Anjos’ spot citing injury and lack of preparation.
McGregor mocked:”Many thought they wanted the fight until the fight comes up.”
But Diaz retorted to send McGregor a message that he hasn’t fought anyone of substance yet.
Diaz blasted: “You fight midgets. I am a real motherf*****g fighter.”
Loaded sports writer Pearse Corcoran has covered news, sport and entertainment for several national newspapers and radio stations in Ireland. Follow him on Twitter at @PearseCorcoran