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Conor McGregor: 'I'm carrying this whole damn game and I love it'

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Objectively, Conor McGregor doesn't lack much. Sure, he's only the interim UFC featherweight champion of the world, but he'll get a chance next week to collect the real thing. And in the meantime, he's young, rich, famous and by the sounds of him telling it on a media conference call to promote next week's UFC 194 bout with Jose Aldo, he's got everything else in between.

"You know, things change all the time, so this is the life I've created, the life I've built and I love this life. I don't really get caught up too much in it. I have been in the spotlight for a long time now. I feel I am a veteran at it and I get better at dealing with it, how to handle it," McGregor said of the growing popularity and demands that puts on him.

"I only grow and I only evolve. That's what has happened now. Although, I came home with a belt. Even before I signed with the UFC I was a two-weight world champion. It's just familiar for me, another fight, another KO and another gold belt.

"'Honey," he quipped, "'I'm home.'"

So popular and outsized has McGregor become that comparisons to former UFC women's bantamweight Ronda Rousey - the most celebrated MMA fighter ever - are cropping up more than ever. For the fighter from Dublin, Ireland, though, he sees himself and her as entirely distinct.

At this point, in fact, McGregor believes there's only him and then everyone else.

"In reality we are two different people on two different paths," he argued. "I don't really focus on her situation or anyone else's situation for that matter. I'm just doing what I'm doing and what I'm doing, I'm carrying this whole damn game and I love it. It feels light. I'm carrying it on my shoulders, but it honestly feels light to me.

"I feel like I'm doing single-leg squats with the whole game on my shoulders because it ain't nothing."

McGregor's never lacked for confidence or bravado, but he was also in rare form on Wednesday's call in terms of projecting of his own greatness and strength. When asked if the source of his compulsion for winning comes from a focus on knowing he'd have to face Aldo, McGregor was quick to note Aldo had nothing to do with it.

"No, and I'll tell you why," he said of a prioritization of the reigning featherweight champion. "Winners focus on winning and losers focus on winners, so I'm a winner. I focus on winning. I entered that promotion as a winner, as a two-weight world champion, focused on winning. That's it.

"You'll always hear that with people," he continued, "'I've been training for this guy my whole life'. How many times you hear that?

"'When I was first coming up, that guy was the man and I've been training to fight him my whole life' and then he goes and gets his ass handed to him on a plate because losers focus on winners and winners focus on winning. So, I came in here looking to win, looking to win all the belts. It doesn't matter who holds them. I hold them, you know what I mean? Jose doesn't show up, it makes no difference. It's still me they're coming to see because I'm focusing on me and I'm focusing on winning."

The question, in fact, got McGregor riled up. Not angry, but willing to let all of his opinions be known. When asked why he didn't pull out of UFC 189 despite having a badly injured knee, the interim champ was credulous about his own ability to adapt and overcome.

"Nothing can break me," he argued. "Nothing can stop this train from taking over this game. Absolutely nothing. I had a busted up leg and they knew I had a busted up leg and they planned to target it. They celebrated that because it happened on the world tour. They knew it, their whole camp knew it and they celebrated it and plotted away to attack it.

"[Aldo] bruised his rib and pulled out of the fight and still told him when he bruised his rib, I said, 'Show up and I won't target your body," McGregor claimed. "You show up here, I won't hit you once to the body. I'll hit you clean in the face.' And he still didn't show up.

"I showed up because nothing can break me. No amount of adversity I cannot conquer and that's it. My mind is strong, stronger than anything and that's it. I went in with complete belief that my shots would land. I have so many shots in my book that although I had to put a few shots into my back pocket because my movement was limited, I could pull out a couple more out of my other pocket because that's how many damn shots I have in my book. I could write a trilogy on that book of skill."

So good does his body feel that McGregor noted he's "swinging them legs like a motherfucker, yeah," but didn't elaborate beyond that.

Still, there's no lack of scale to his ambition. He outright told the media on Wednesday he wanted to become a two-division champion in the UFC. More than that, he wanted to be "stake [his] claim as the number one pound-for-pound fighter on the planet" with a win on December 12 at UFC 194. For a guy who has already achieved so much, there could be a concern he's taking on too much.

McGregor, however, said embracing everything is what has made it all so easy. Easy enough, he argued, that he does it the best of anyone.

"I embrace it," he said of the rigors that come with being a top-ranked, celebrated fighter. "It's part of the game. With Ronda, she does even more in reality than me, but I feel maybe there's some other issues, some personal issues. There was a lot on Ronda's plate on that one.

"For me, I just handle my own business. It's part of the game," he noted. "it's business as usual. This is the life I've created and there's no one better at this."

In a moment of life imitating art, McGregor said he's had a recent revelation. "I watched Rocky 3 and if you watch Rocky 3, at the start of it, he's in a mansion, he has seven cars, he's got this robot that brings him coffee and stuff. He's doing all these ads and talk shows and he's getting sloppy and lazy.

"Then meanwhile, Clubber Lang in a dark alleyway, sprinting, throwing shots, visualizing. And I kind of smiled watching that because I'm like Rocky 3 in that I have the big houses, I have the cars, I have the robots bringing me coffee every morning. But at the same time, I'm Clubber Lang," he claimed.

For McGregor, he's beauty and the beast. He's both ying and yang. He's the straw that stirs the drink and the drink itself. To say he's riding high would be a disservice to how high he's riding, at least according to McGregor. This is uncharted territory, but ultimately, it's nothing he can't handle. Remember, no one does it better than him. He's got everything down to a science.

"I'm training like Clubber, but I'm living like Rocky. I think I have the perfect balance right now," he said. "For me, I have a perfect balance. I'm living good and I'm training hard."