With a little over a week to go, UFC Fight Night is already giving us plenty of drama. With Chael Sonnen's licensing headache seemingly handled, we can now focus on the smack talk Q & A sessions, the open workouts and the entertaining interviews.
Two days ago, I had to good fortune, along with my co-host, Iain Kidd, to have a few minutes with the UFC's Irish featherweight star, Conor McGregor for our show, MMA Sentinel and for Bloody Elbow readers. By the time that 25 minute interview was over, I felt like I had run on an uphill incline on a treadmill for two hours. That Irish kid is an energetic ball of fire, to say the least.
A variety of topics were covered that included how he feels about fighting in Little Ireland (Boston), PR responsibilities, Cub Swanson, Jose Aldo, his unique views of planning ahead for the future and much more. Here's what he had to say:
Fighting in Boston & Irish Americans
The event being in Boston adds to it, 100%. This is as close as it gets to fighting at home. All those crazy Irish-American motherf***ers, you know what I mean? They're just as nuts as us, and they're just as proud of their Irish heritage as I am. For these Americans to be proud of my nation, that fills me with pride. To be honest, pride isn't even a word that cuts it. There is no word that explains how I feel. It just motivates me to put on a show for these people, and show them what they have been waiting on; this true Irishman in the purest form of combat there is. It's going to be a special night and honestly, I cannot wait.
I'm not really thinking about my opponent, I'm not thinking about anything else, I'm just thinking about the event. Boston as a city, with 20,000 screaming Irish-Americans, is going to be a special night. A night I will be able to take with me for the rest of my life.
My last fight was my first time in America, and when I was in Vegas every second person I was talking to was like, ‘My great granny's name was O'Flaherty.' They all have some sort of Irish link, and to me that's brilliant. To have the American people so proud of my nation. Honestly, it is a special thing.
Over here in Ireland, we love America. America is the f**king shit. America is number one. So to have these Americans loving my little nation over here, that's freezing cold all the time, to have people so proud to carry that Irish heritage, it really is great. Words can't describe what I'm feeling right now, or the amount of pride I'm going to be carrying into that octagon when I raise that tri-color high in the long lost city of Ireland that is Boston.
I treat it like an art, I treat it like a discipline, like I'm learning how to box, how to grapple, how to wrestle. I'm learning how to deal with the media. I approach it with a learning mind, and every day I get better. I understand that this is what needs to be done. This is a business. We are selling this game. To be truly successful at this game, you have to master this side of it. I see it as an art that I'm looking to improve on every time.
I'm going to introduce you to my plan. I call it the fool proof plan. It's a plan where I go out and spend every single cent I have in my bank. I take it all out and blow it all on clothes, cars and nice food. You want to see the food I've been eating lately, I've been eating like a king. I'm going to spend it until I'm broke. Then when I'm broke as f**k, I'm hungry again. You're not going to catch me slacking off. I stay ready. I stay in shape. I stay hungry.
I'm just going to blow all that money quick, then I'm hungry again. That's my financial plan.
Live fast, die young and leave a good looking corpse?
Oh yeah. In a custom three piece, and maybe a top hat. [Everyone laughs]
Whatever you do on this earth, there are going to be people criticizing you, and people wishing you failed. It's part and parcel of the game, and I'm not going to lose sleep over it. It is what it is. I try not to focus on it too much. I'm only young, I'm still learning this side of things as I go, and I understand that this is what happens; people are going to jump on the bandwagon, and if I lose, they'll jump off. I don't focus on that. I just focus on the people that are around me, my team, my coach, my training partners, my family and my girlfriend, and that's all I'm in there for. I'm fighting for a better life. I'm fighting for security.
Honestly, whatever people say, good or bad, I'm emotionless to it. Like even an opponent could say whatever he wants to me, about my gym or about me, anything, and I feel nothing about it. I just focus on the people who are with me day in and day out, and that's it. As long as I go in there and fight with all of my heart, and they see all the work I've put in, and that I've done everything I could do, honestly, I cannot lose. I can only win doing that.
Striking & Fighting Philosophy
I'll train in any style. I always love to learn. I always look at everything. I spend all day looking at videos, or in the gym working on the things that I've seen. I started out doing some kickboxing and boxing, then a little Capoeira, Tae Kwon Do and Karate. The human body can move in many ways, and that's what I'm trying to do. I'm looking for my body to move in all ways, to attack and defend. That's translated into my fighting style. Looking back at the way I used to fight, and the way I fight now, it seems to always change, so I don't know, I just keep trying to learn new shit.
Approach everything with an open mind, with a learning mind. You will never stop learning as long as you keep the mind-set that everything works, because everything does work. There's a time and a place for every single move. If you work on it enough, it will work. Everything works, and that's the mind frame my coach instils in me. Everything works, and every movement can be effective.
I'm just trying to learn it all. There's not enough hours in the day for me, that's why I'm up half the night twitching, and shadowboxing. I don't sleep, I wait.
To me, the most important thing is to be creative, to be spontaneous, to be fearless and to approach it without a plan. Approach the contest with no plan, with no set movement and just let it flow. Do shit that has not been done before, and trust me, I have shots that have not been shown before. I have shots in my book that have not been seen before, and I look forward to showing them.
I'm a martial artist, and I'm open to all styles of combat. If someone wants to wrestle, then let's wrestle. Wherever the contest takes place, the contest takes place. I'm prepared for it all. I fear no man. If you breathe oxygen, I do not fear you.
People think I'm just a stand-up guy, well that's great. Let's see, you know? From what I've seen, I'm not impressed. I don't fear any of these guys. You can put me in with any one of them tomorrow, and it's going to be a contest. I'm trouble for anyone in the 145 division, and even the 155 division. I've got skills in my locker that have not been seen.
I'm athletic and fit. I stay in shape. I do sweet f**k-all else. You won't catch me doing anything else. Come over here and you'll only catch me in one place, and that's the gym. I fear no one. Bring it on.
Asking for Lamas Matchup & Potential Fights
Well, the circumstances that happened with Andy Ogle is he got a staph infection 8 weeks out. A staph infection is a bit of cream and an antibiotic for 5 days, but whatever, it is what it is. I just knew that I needed an American opponent because of all the visa stuff.
I had to travel around from Dublin to London, to Washington, to Calgary, to Vegas and back for my visa. I knew there were problems going on with the visas, so I knew I needed an American opponent.
So, I narrowed it down with my coach. Who is due a fight that is American? Lamas is the one that came to mind, and he's up there in the rankings. It wasn't that I was looking to fight this guy, it was just circumstance. It was him by process of elimination.
Aldo & The Korean Zombie
I watched the Aldo vs the Korean Zombie fight, and I think you could put me in there tomorrow with either of them. If you think I wouldn't trouble either of them, then you're highly mistaken. Look, put me in there next time. I'll bring a whole nation of people behind me. I'll sell. I know I've only had one fight in there, but guess what? I'm bringing more hype than everyone else combined.
I feel confident, I don't fear either of those guys. I wasn't impressed. It was basic. It wasn't spontaneous, it wasn't creative, it was one shot, one shot. It was something I looked at and I didn't think, ‘these guys are ahead of me', you know? I'm confident. I'm confident that my time is here. My time is now.
Someone wrote, ‘I'd love to see Cub and Conor fight down the line.' And Cub wrote back ‘yeah, I think that fight will happen.' It escalated a little bit from there. I get these kind of tweets every day, ‘I want to see Conor fight this guy, or that guy.' I'm sure all the guys on the roster get the same tweets. He wrote back to it, and I responded, ‘Yeah well, we'll see' blah blah blah. I don't give a shit. I don't give a shit about Cub, you know what I mean?
Am I in his head? Is that what it is? Is that why he's writing back to these tweets? I don't give a shit. Whatever, it is what it is. Put me in with Cub and I'll take him out as well. It's just another body to me.
It's a fight at the end of the day. I'm an Irishman. We are tough. There's something in us that makes us fight to the end, and I'm no different. You're going to have trouble with me no matter what. Plus, I work my ass off. You won't catch me out of shape. I looked at Cub over in Sweden and Cub looked about 15% body fat.
Come over and pinch me. Come over and find me on Christmas day and try to pinch me and see what weight I am. I don't get out of shape. You won't catch me over 10% body fat. Never in your life. I'm always in shape, 24/7. I'm ready for them all. Bring it on. Bring the f**kers on.
Dana & The Ferrari
That was a special night. When I used to drive to the gym, it was in a little Peugeot 206. A little small car, an old arse car with smoke coming out of the engine, and it shook when I drove it. It used to shake down the road and make all these noises, but in my head I was driving a soft top Ferrari, cruising down the Las Vegas strip. Then four or five years later, where am I? Floating down the Las Vegas strip in a Ferrari soft top.
It's all kind of happening right before my eyes, and it's a weird sensation. I'll tell you what I'm going to do right now, I'm going to look up the dictionary, and look for a word that explains the feeling that I feel when these things are happening before my eyes. Right now, I don't know a word that can explain it correctly.
August 17th, you're going to see what it's all about. You're going to see I'm not talking shit. You know I'm not talking shit. You can hear in my voice I'm not talking shit, and I know I'm not talking shit. I know I'm talking the truth, and on August 17th on Fox Sports 1 you will see for yourself.
You can follow Conor via his Twitter, @TheNotoriousMMA