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In 'state of Zen,' Conor McGregor vows to be 'a ghost' against Jose Aldo

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Maybe all of that talk of Conor McGregor losing his mind wasn't a joke after all.

"The Notorious" was a much cooler, toned-down-version of his usual histrionic self Wednesday at a UFC 194 press conference. McGregor kept his voice low, never addressed Jose Aldo directly and even bowed to the UFC featherweight champion after the two squared off. Aldo and McGregor will fight to unify the featherweight title in the main event of UFC 194 on Saturday night in Las Vegas.

"I am in a state of Zen," McGregor said. "The closer the fight comes -- every time, I say it over and over -- the face becomes blank. There is no face. It's just blank and a fresh body type. Back in the World Tour was a different time. Like I said, I acted true to myself in that moment. Now it is a new time. Now, war is upon us. So, I am calm, cold, ruthless and ready to take out the body that's in front of me."

McGregor did manage to get in some digs. He confirmed that he does have spies in Aldo's camp, reiterated his claim that Aldo was "stuck in the mud," and -- of course -- predicted a first-round finish.

"I feel within four minutes the shots will have landed," McGregor said. "It's on him after that. I feel anything after that four-minute mark of the first round will be a formality. It will be on him where he is mentally, where he is physically and how much he truly wants this. I see him crumbling towards the end of the first or not answering the bell for the second. But it will be wrapped up inside one."

There were points, though, that the interim champ was very introspective. McGregor boasts his new-age take on the fight game. He's been working with movement specialist Ido Portal, as chronicled on recent episodes of UFC 194 Embedded. McGregor's preparation seems to be rather unorthodox compared to what others are doing.

At the press conference, McGregor said Aldo and everyone else in MMA are "predictable" and creatures of routine and repetition. They all do everything the same way, whereas he brings a new dimension to getting ready for battle.

"I feel this one will be a spectacle," McGregor said. "This one will be a master class. This one will be the changing of a guard, me bringing in a new era in fighting, in approach, in everything. I am a man with something to prove and a man with something to prove is a dangerous individual. But at the same time, I am calm. So I will go in calm, dangerous and look to show the world the new age."

McGregor loves to visualize how things will go in the Octagon. He did that again Wednesday.

"I visualize entering the contest unpredictable," McGregor said. "I will pressure him. I will evade him. I will strike him with every limb. The knee. The heel. The fist. The elbow. I will be a ghost in there. He will think I'm there and then I am not there. He will think I am not there and then I am there. I am going to put on a masterpiece of this fight. This will prove my point, that I am the number one."

Aldo is the only featherweight champion the UFC has ever known. He has not lost in 10 years -- since he was a teenager. Most would the Brazilian in the top two of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world with Jon Jones.

McGregor, though, is somehow the favorite coming off his interim title victory over Chad Mendes at UFC 189 in July.

"I certainly feel like the favorite," McGregor said. "I carry myself like the favorite. ... The odds match how I feel."

And that feeling is one of composure. McGregor's heart rate didn't ascend to any kind of level Wednesday.

"I am in a state of Zen right now," he said. "My mind is calm, composed. I am prepared. And I am happy. I am happy we are here."

Conor McGregor, Zen master. Who would have thought?