We all saw an entirely different Conor McGregor during the lead-up of his UFC 257 rematch with Dustin Poirier six months ago. There was a lot of smiling, exchange of handshakes, and a show of mutual respect, a far cry from the man that we all knew and were accustomed to.
McGregor, who fights Poirier for the third time this Saturday at UFC 264, never really explained the shift in character. But during a recent interview with ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, he gave an answer.
“I feel almost pity for some people in the game, to be honest. I had a little bit of pity for Dustin,” he said. “He’s been around many years… it’s not a pretty game for a lot of people in this business. And I just came back and wanted to be respectful and give the dues and f—k that this time. It wasn’t reciprocated and it was shady.
“It’s not that I didn’t know about it. It’s not that I didn’t know the intentions, but now the intentions are clear. And I’m gonna punish him for that.”
When asked to specify the “shady” actions, McGregor refused. But he promises to exact revenge for it.
“Just a few things… It’s been known throughout the buildup with certain things, certain discussions we’ve had. Just shady behavior. I’m not in the business of explaining any of it. But know, the man is gonna pay for it.”
I could be wrong, but McGregor is likely referring to Poirier’s previous allegations of being “ghosted” and not receiving the charity donation that the Irishman had promised. The former champ-champ took offense and even threatened to pull out of their scheduled trilogy.
McGregor says he knows his true character outside of the fight game, and that he’s only showing the “ruthlessness” that any competitor needs to thrive.
“I am a nice guy. It’s just about not translating it into the game. You can’t be nice in this business, that’s for sure. No matter what. You’ve got to be ruthless and I’ve got to stay ruthless.”
True to his word, “The Notorious” of old showed himself during Thursday’s pre-fight presser.
UFC 264 happens at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.