LAS VEGAS -- If you thought Conor McGregor's UFC 189 World Tour histrionics were just for show, think again.
Not only was McGregor doing a damn good job selling his main event against UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo, he was also executing a carefully constructed plan. McGregor wanted to get in Aldo's head, make him feel the pressure and head back to Brazil to overtrain before the July 11 fight in Las Vegas.
"They are done with the game," McGregor said at an open workout recently to promote UFC 189. "I am only on my way in, so I knew his mind was beat throughout that world tour. I knew he would have flown straight back to Brazil and went heavy, heavy at it. Heavy rounds, heavy training. Having the whole of Brazil on his back. The pressure on him to beat this loud-mouth Irish kid. Heavy, heavy rounds. The body breaks."
McGregor (17-2) antagonized Aldo on every tour stop -- from Rio de Janeiro to Dublin. The two men visited eight cities in five countries over two weeks in late March. McGregor told Aldo he was going to die in Rio, swiped his belt in Los Angeles and the ripped the belt from right in front of Aldo in Dublin. The face-offs between the two men got increasingly more intense as the tour went on.
And while McGregor is certain Aldo went back to Brazil to train like crazy, he went on vacation.
"I went to the beach," the Irishman said. "I done yoga. I done gymnastics. I worked balance stuff. I flew out specific individuals just to train, just to keep the body fresh."
McGregor, 26, said he is changing the game of MMA -- from the business side to training. In everything he does, he looks to innovate. So far, so good for a man who has just five UFC fights and isn't even a champion. At least, not yet.
'The world tour was just a combination of me looking at him dead in the eye and telling him what was gonna happen to him," McGregor said. "I knew he does not speak English, so I spoke in his native tongue in Rio de Janeiro and told him he will die. And then that was it."
There is still another six weeks left until the big fight. McGregor is now in Las Vegas training with his team, who he flew out and set up in a huge, seven-bedroom mansion. Aldo is in Rio de Janeiro at his top-notch gym Nova Uniao. McGregor sees the bout going in much the same way the world tour went.
"It's the same way in the fight I'll go in, I'll set him up, he'll react to what I'm doing," McGregor said. "I'll put him down, raise the belt and boom. I was just mimicking what will happen July 11 in Las Vegas.
"I knew his body was tired. I knew his mind was drained. He's on his way out of the game. All you gotta do is look. He's looking for his exit."