Conor McGregor is Fighting Dustin Poirier at UFC 257, So Why Does He Keep Talking About Khabib and Nate Diaz?

Conor McGregor UFC 257 PPV


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It’s almost as if Conor McGregor can’t resist picking fights.

Set to face Dustin Poirier in the UFC 257 main event, McGregor has been busy with the press en route to Fight Island. He’s been making the rounds to hype his January 23 Pay Per View on ESPN+ (7 p.m. PST / 10 p.m. EST), and while the focus has been on Poirier, McGregor just can’t help poking the bear every chance he gets.

“We’re not looking past Dustin. We’re not looking past anyone, but we are certainly looking through him, and that’s where I will go with my punching,” McGregor recently told The Mac Life. “This is high pressure, high stakes business and … when you’ve got an Irishman looking for a fight. You better give him one.”

ONLY ON ESPN+: UFC 257  – Saturday 1/23/20 10:00 PM/ET 


For roughly 20 minutes, McGregor answered questions about his marathon fight camp to prepare for UFC 257, his return to 155 pounds, and the rematch against Poirier. McGregor gave precise and focused responses, the kind that would make any fight fan or potential PPV viewer believe that he’s been taking this whole thing very, very seriously.

“Discipline. Structure. These are the true keys to success,” offered McGregor. “You’ve got to be structured in your work. You’ve got to be disciplined. You’ve got to be self motivated. And those are the things I am. And I’m certainly a lot more mature in all aspects of my life … I’ve came through the ringer.”

ONLY ON ESPN+: UFC 257  – Saturday 1/23/20 10:00 PM/ET 


However, in between discussion of UFC 257 and the Poirier fight, McGregor revealed his true genius, courting a number of potential suitors while fanning the flames of the UFC’s most explosive and heated rivalry.

“There’s many good competitors, good fighters in there and I feel levels above them all,” commented McGregor of his desire to face the UFC’s best lightweights. He also singled out two-time foe Nate Diaz, who faced McGregor twice in 2016 in two of the UFC’s top selling PPV events, for a potential trilogy bout.

Nate Diaz coming back down to lightweight. I love that. I’d love to compete against Diaz,” added McGregor. “We will compete again. If it happens at lightweight for a title that would be something special. There’s many great options that are in the works.”

Complimentary of Diaz’ mettle, McGregor explained that “Nate’s a warrior. Nate’s a goer. Nate shows up, steps up and fights. … I feel maybe it should be me and Nate. If he’s gonna do 155 we could possibly do that for the belt.”

With Diaz realistically nowhere near a lightweight title shot, McGregor then took aim at his most hated rival, Khabib “The Eagle” Nurmagomedov, the UFC’s most recent champion at 155 pounds, who may or may not be retired.

ONLY ON ESPN+: UFC 257  – Saturday 1/23/20 10:00 PM/ET 


Having lost to Nurmagomedov by fourth round submission in 2018 at UFC 229, the promotion’s all-time best-selling PPV fight card, McGregor has been looking for a second shot at “The Eagle” ever since.

Khabib has never conceded an inch to McGregor, outright refusing to give “The Notorious” the time of day or a shot at redemption. However, Nurmagomedov recently loosened his stance on his sudden retirement, albeit by the slightest of margins, after sitting down with UFC president Dana White on Fight Island, with White explaining that “if [McGregor or Poirier] could do something special, Khabib will fight them.”

McGregor is equally interested in a bout against his rival, however his goading method of attracting the fight contrasts greatly from his approach with Diaz.

“I think [Khabib’s] afraid to fight me,” McGregor told Ariel Helwani in an interview that aired on January 17. “That’s for damn sure and I don’t blame him. I fought the best of him on that night, he fought the worst of me on that night. He knows it, I know it, his team knows it. I have the answer to destroy that man.”

Irritated by the mere mention of Khabib, McGregor has been using his platform and profile to call for the rematch, taking every opportunity to slight Nurmagomedov.

“How you could walk away at this stage is baffling to me,” McGregor commented to The Mac Life. “There’s so many amazing fights out there and even to carry on around the Tony [Ferguson] situation, like I don’t care about nothing … you’re scheduled to fight a man. No matter what. Fights must take place. You can’t just scurry away from bouts. It’s been the hallmark of his approach and I was not surprised to see him walk away or scurry away.”

It’s not quite as aggressive as the time McGregor called Khabib a “pullout merchant,” but still it’s a barb. And, if you poke the bear enough times, well, you’re bound to get mauled. Khabib just so happens to be the guy who mauls actual bear, so that idiom doesn’t exactly apply here.

What is exact, however, is McGregor’s ability to hype a fight like no one else. Strike that. Hype a trio of fights, verified blockbusters, all of which will likely sell well over a million PPV units.

ONLY ON ESPN+: UFC 257  – Saturday 1/23/20 10:00 PM/ET 


So, tune in on January 23 to watch McGregor take on Poirier. Tune in to see if McGregor can make good on his 60-second knockout prediction. Tune in to see the McGregor show and some pretty badass fight.

But also remember, Conor McGregor isn’t going anywhere. “The Notorious” still has a lot of fight left in him, and he’s calling out Diaz and Khabib, and Manny Pacquiao, for that matter.

But that’s an entirely different story …

More on UFC 257: McGregor vs. Poirier 2

UFC 257 Pay Per View Main Card (on ESPN+ PPV) 7 p.m. PST / 10 p.m. EST

  • Conor McGregor vs. Dustin Poirier
  • Michael Chandler vs. Dan Hooker
  • Jessica Eye vs. Joanne Calderwood
  • Matt Frevola vs. Ottman Azaitar
  • Amanda Ribas vs. Marina Rodriguez

UFC 257 Prelims (on ESPN+ & ESPN) 5 p.m. PST / 8 p.m. EST

  • Nasrat Haqparast vs. Arman Tsarukyan
  • Brad Tavares vs. Antonio Carlos Junior
  • Juliana Pena vs. Sara McMann
  • Khalil Rountree vs. Marcin Prachnio

UFC 257 Early Prelims (on ESPN+ & ESPN) 3:15 p.m. PST / 6:15 p.m. EST

  • Andrew Sanchez vs. Makhmud Muradov
  • Nik Lentz vs. Movsar Evloev
  • Amir Albazi vs. Zhalgas Zhumagulov

*Fight card subject to change

Dan Shapiro is a writer, editor, musician, and producer currently based in Los Angeles. In addition to covering some of the biggest fights in combat sports history, he’s also hunted down the world’s best sushi, skied the northern hemisphere in July, and chronicled Chinese underground music for publications like CNN, the New York Daily News, VICE, and Time Out. Dan also conjured up a ghost at the Chateau Marmont while out on assignment for RoadTrippers. Follow him on Twitter here.

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