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Conor McGregor: ‘Realistically I should be a two-weight UFC world champion'

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Conor McGregor made history at UFC 196, though exactly not the type of history he counted on.

The epic clash between McGregor and Nate Diaz drew several of the best financial numbers in UFC history, however McGregor lost out on his chance to become the first simultaneous two-division UFC champion when lightweight titleholder Rafael dos Anjos withdrew with a foot injury less than two weeks prior to fight night.

McGregor instead fought Diaz as a late replacement and suffered a stunning second-round submission loss, while dos Anjos dropped his lightweight belt in his subsequent title defense courtesy of a first-round knockout at the hands of Eddie Alvarez. However, months after the fact, McGregor remains confident he would have accomplished the same result as Alvarez had the Brazilian avoided injury.

"Realistically I should be a two-weight UFC world champion," McGregor said Friday on a UFC 202 conference call. "If I fought Rafael dos Anjos, if he didn't pussy out of that last one and showed up, the shots I cracked Nate with in the first eight minutes of that [fight] would've KO'd Rafael dos Anjos stiff. That's no question. I would be sitting here right now as a two-weight world champion.

"But I don't dwell on that. I am happy that this happened, because it forced me to look at my preparation, look at the route I was going. It forced me to reassess, so I'm happy that this happened. But make no mistake, this one means a hell of a lot to me. This one means more than any amount of gold or money combined. I gave up a hell of a lot of money, I gave up opportunities, Hollywood opportunities, for this contest. I wanted to restrict media. I want to solely focus on this, so that should tell you how much this fight means to me and I've been preparing accordingly."

McGregor and Diaz are scheduled to run their fight back on Aug. 20 at UFC 202. The rematch is one that McGregor demanded in the aftermath of UFC 196, transforming a year that was supposed to be about his takeover of the game into one that potentially could see him lose back-to-back fights against the same non-champion.

But this time around things have been different for the popular Irish star. The laissez-faire attitude that led McGregor to overlook Diaz's advantages in cardio and size has been replaced by a no-nonsense camp engineered specifically around opposing Diaz's skillset. McGregor has also left a majority of the heavy lifting in the media to Diaz and even turned down a role in the next xXx movie, xXx: Return of Xander Cage -- a role which was ultimately given to UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping.

"I should get a cut of that," McGregor said. "I didn't even get a thank you off Bisping. That was my role. I met with the guy before the Aldo fight -- the director came out, his and his little team came out and we spoke and I said yeah, I'll do the film. And then after the last fight I rang him up and I said listen, I can't go into this, because it's not something I'm trying to do right now. I need to get that win back. I need to go focus and do what got me here in the first place, so I disengaged from the film altogether.

"That was a seven-figure deal that I turned down so I could prepare for this fight. Myself and Bisping are managed by the same people. Bisping scooped up the role, he got it, and that was that. So I just let that go. This is more important to me. I've said it before, I am not in this for show business. This is the fight business I am in here and that's all I'm trying to do here. I'm not trying to do none of this other sh*t."