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Tyson Fury on Conor McGregor: 'He copied me in everything he does'

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Tyson Fury likely isn't making many friends with his comments about how mixed martial arts is only for those who cannot box. Still, for a boxer who seems to bristle at the idea any MMA heavyweight champion is on his level as a stand-up, combat fighter, he pays a surprisingly high amount of attention to the sister sport.

In fact, he thinks it actually might also work the other way around, too. Fighters in MMA are paying attention to him. No one is more guilty of that, according to Fury, than UFC interim champion Conor McGregor.

"I am familiar with a man named Conor McGregor. I think he copied me in everything he does," Fury told Ariel Helwani on Monday's The MMA Hour. "I was the first trash talker - big time - in these shores, first one in Ireland. Then all of a sudden, he started copying me, this Conor McGregor guy.

"I grew a big beard. He grew a big beard," Fury continues. "I talk bulls--t about everybody, he starts talking bulls--t about everybody. And it worked for the heavyweight champ of the world. It must work for Conor McGregor, some guy who's like 140 pounds or whatever is."

Interestingly, however, this is where the negativity for Fury ends. "No, I am a fan of his," Fury insists. "He's copied my style. I better admire him for it." More importantly, though, is the fact that while Fury sees McGregor as having picked off his style, it's had the effect of making Fury want to watch McGregor compete in the Octagon.

For a person who has stated he doesn't enjoy much about MMA, getting him to watch is no small accomplishment.

"I've never met him, but the guy is a very entertaining character," Fury admits. "Conor McGregor got me actually physically watching MMA and wanted to check the results. Because the way he was carrying on, I thought, 'This guy has definitely got a bit of me self in this guy. I want to check him out'.

"I saw the fight with the Mendes guy, the interim champion and I will be watching the Aldo fight because he's got a lot to say, hasn't he?"

So much kinship is there from Fury's perspective, that he sees McGregor's rise through the UFC's featherweight ranks and on the precipice of potentially becoming champion at UFC 194 as similar to his achievement in November when he beat the decade-long-reigning champion Wladimir Klitschko.

Is McGregor's rise really like Fury's ascension? Fury certainly seems to think so.

"It's a bit like my fight with Klitschko," he says. "Aldo was the reigning champion for many years, [McGregor]'s a young kid on the block coming up shouting his mouth off. Some people say he's a pretender, some people say he's the real deal.

"Klitschko was the long-reigning champion on the block, I was a guy some people said was a pretender, some people think I can fight, some people think I can fight," Fury noted. "So, it's very, very much similarity between me and Conor McGregor. I'm living proof that it can be done. I beat Klitschko, he can beat Jose Aldo. Why not? For sure."