LAS VEGAS — Conor McGregor understood the stakes going in his rematch against Nate Diaz at UFC 202.
With one loss to Diaz already in the books, McGregor risked suffering back-to-back defeats at a weight class two divisions above the one he reigns over as champion — an unprecedented scenario that would have done irreparable harm to McGregor’s image as one of the best fighters in the sport. And after besting Diaz with a gutsy decision win on Saturday in the rematch, McGregor acknowledged just how much his critics pushed him.
“This was a hell of an important fight for me,” McGregor said at UFC 202’s post-fight press conference. “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 190 pounds. I was 167 leaving for the fight and I was saying to myself, I need to eat, try and get up at least over 170.
“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.”
This time around was far different than the last time for both McGregor and Diaz. Rather than fighting on 11 days’ notice like they did at UFC 196, the two rivals had over five months to prepare for one another as well as the welterweight limit both fights were contested at. And for both McGregor and Diaz, those extra months mattered in more ways than one.
Source:: mma fighting