LAS VEGAS -- Nate Diaz has been down this road before.
Ahead of UFC 196, Conor McGregor promised to the world that his short-notice showdown against Diaz would end with a first-round knockout victory for the UFC featherweight champion. Of course, things didn't quite work out that way, as Diaz weathered an early storm then submitted the brash Irishman, ending McGregor's undefeated UFC run in stunning fashion.
Yet history is repeating itself in the lead-up to the Aug. 20 rematch at UFC 202, as McGregor is once again predicting he will knock out Diaz to win the contest, albeit with a fourth-round finish rather than a first. And while many of McGregor's past opponents may have bristled at McGregor's prophetic powers, Diaz remains unimpressed.
"That's what he said last time," Diaz said Wednesday at UFC 202's pre-fight press conference. "I think he's got a lot of people around him and he's trying to pump himself up, and he's either lying to himself or to the world about his confidence, trying to make himself believe it. But he remembers what happened in the last fight."
What happened at UFC 196 was the second-round rear-naked choke seen around the world -- a victory for Diaz that cracked the mythos that surrounded McGregor, who until then had faced little adversity on his road to UFC stardom.
Diaz is hoping to replicate that result the second time around at UFC 202, and he isn't buying what McGregor is selling when McGregor insists the loss was a fluke due to poor planning.
"I think it's a little silly, man," Diaz said. "You've got pictures of me up in his garage, with him punching me in the face (on UFC Embedded). What the f*ck? Who does that? That's trying to make yourself believe something. That's all. I just think he's trying to hype his own self up, but when he goes to sleep at night, he remembers what happened the last time."
While many within the mixed martial arts world have pointed to Diaz's win as proof that McGregor was overhyped from the start, the two rivals share an obvious mutual respect for the other's approach towards the fight game, and Diaz disagreed with the idea that he exposed McGregor as a better talker than fighter.
"I just think I beat him, and I thought I could beat him the whole time," Diaz said. "I think that he's a good fighter and a good talker. It's whatever. Somebody's got to make a scene here because nobody else is. I felt like I was doing that for years and they weren't pushing it as hardcore as they're pushing him. But I think that he's a good fighter and a talker.
"That ain't no punk-ass compliment either," Diaz added. "F*ck him."
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