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Conor McGregor, Nate Diaz exchange barbs at press conference: 'He's like a scared little boy'

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

LAS VEGAS -- Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz nearly came to blows Thursday after a pre-fight UFC 196 press conference. McGregor slapped Diaz's hand away during a faceoff and security had to separate the two men -- and their teams.

But before the scuffle, the words were nearly as heated. McGregor went on the verbal attack when the two came together for the first time last week in Los Angeles. And he ramped it up to 11 on Thursday.

"Now, as the fight comes closer, he's like a scared little boy," McGregor said inside the MGM Grand's David Copperfield Theater. "Trying to pass the spotlight off, trying to pass the spotlight onto Nick, trying to pass the spotlight onto Rickson [Gracie] and his son (Kron). Even that little skinny twerp that he does the open workout, he even tried to plug him at the last press conference. He's trying to pass the limelight. That's what the man does when he's scared."

Diaz shot back that he's not trying to pass the spotlight, just highlighting his elite training partners. He questioned who McGregor trains with, taking shots at McGregor's movement coach Ido Portal and his unorthodox techniques.

"You're playing touch butt with that dork in the park with the ponytail," Diaz said. "And I'm the one who don't have training partners? I don't think so. ... The JV squad on my team would beat your team's ass."

McGregor said Diaz's team was made up of of "juiceheads and bums." Last week, after Diaz accused him of being on steroids, McGregor said that Gilbert Melendez and Jake Shields, Diaz's teammates, both failed drug tests over the last few years.

"I'd slap the head off your whole team, one by one," McGregor said. "You and your big brother."

Diaz trains with the likes of his brother Nick, Shields and Melendez as well as jiu-jitsu ace Kron Gracie and elite kickboxer Joe Schilling.

"I'm just saying I train with top guys," Diaz said. "I train with Kron Gracie, world champion, best jiu-jitsu guy there is. I train with Nick and Jake and Gil, top-10 MMA fighters. Joe schilling, top-10 kickboxer. All-around top-10 guys. All I see is this guy in the park with that goofball with the ponytail."

The two also argued about money. McGregor said he wants Diaz to show some appreciation for tabbing him for this fight when Rafael dos Anjos pulled out.

"Don't talk about money, you're broke," McGregor said. "I could easily switch you up now and put you back on that 20 and 20 if you want. All I want is a thank you or even a little dance. Even a little dance. Dance for me, Nate. Dance for me. And don't look me in the eye when you dance."

McGregor said that Diaz is like a "gazelle," shying away from the fight. The brash Irishman brought up Diaz bashing UFC play-by-play man Jon Anik, who said he would get a "209" tattoo if Diaz managed to win Saturday.

"He even tried to pick on Jon Anik the other day," McGregor said. "[Diaz] has a bully mentality until a real man shows up. Like Mike Tyson said, he's scared of the real man."

Diaz responded: "F*ck Jon Anik and f*ck you."

Also, the weight class of this fight was up for debate. Diaz said it was his call for the bout to be at 170 pounds. McGregor said Diaz wanted it to be at 160 and then 165, so McGregor just told UFC president Dana White to let it happen at welterweight.

"Don't act like it was your call, mother*cker," Diaz said. "I'm calling that shot."

To which, McGregor replied: "You don't make any calls. You only answer the calls. That's it."

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