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Coach: Conor McGregor's trash talk pumped Nate Diaz up 'even more'

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

LAS VEGAS -- Some of Conor McGregor's past opponents have wilted under his superior mental warfare almost as much as his pressure and power.

"The Notorious" tried similar tactics against Nate Diaz heading into their fight at UFC 196 on Saturday. He said Diaz was scared, called his teammates "juiceheads," made fun of him teaching kids jiu-jitsu and then punched his hand during a press conference staredown Thursday. There was plenty more, too.

None of it worked. That was abundantly clear when Diaz walked through McGregor's best punches, rocked him and then submitted him in the second round of the main event fight here at MGM Grand.

Not only did McGregor's pre-fight antics not work, Diaz's coach said. They actually did the opposite of McGregor likely intended.

"It hypes [Diaz] up," said Richard Perez, the Diaz brothers' longtime boxing coach. "He likes to go talk stuff. It pumps him up even more. That's the way it is."

Diaz had never backed down from trash talk in the past. While he may not have gotten the better of it last week, he was the one with his hand raised Saturday night in the biggest victory of his life. It was especially impressive considering Diaz took the fight on just 11 days notice when Rafael dos Anjos pulled out with an injury.

"It's really, really awesome," Perez said. "I can't explain it. Words can't even explain it. Two weeks notice, he came to the gym, he worked hard. He did everything, like he always does. Bike, run, swim, jiu-jitsu, kickboxing, boxing."

McGregor clearly won the first round against Diaz, who took plenty of punishment yet kept coming forward. Diaz, who had a nasty cut over a swelling right eye, knew he would have a slow start, because he had no training camp and did no sparring in preparation.

In the second round, McGregor started out in much the same way, but tired as Diaz persevered. Diaz continued to land until McGregor couldn't absorb any more blows. McGregor went for a takedown, which played right into the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt's trap.

"Once Nathan started using his range and his straight-down-the-middle punches and combinations and landed them, I knew it was gonna be over," Perez said. "When he shot at him, he didn't want to take any more punishment. That's why he did that. And that was a big mistake.

"It worked out right. Once he got him on the ground, it was over. I knew it was over. Because this guy is not a jiu-jitsu man. Nathan is."

The one thing that still bothers Perez about the last few days was McGregor's punch at the press conference. The two men squared off and Diaz put his right hand near McGregor's face. McGregor wound up and punched the hand away. UFC president Dana White and multiple security guards had to keep the fighters away from each other.

The Nevada Athletic Commission said it would not be penalizing McGregor for the physical altercation. Perez does not agree with that stance at all. But then again, it all worked out in the end for Team Diaz.

"Nathan and I talked about it and I said if you would have done something like that, you would have gotten fined -- big time," Perez said. "It's not fair, but hey that's the way you want to play? Nate took care of business. That's what they say -- last laugh."

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