One of the big winners of UFC 207 was none other than UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor. While McGregor may not have competed at the year-end event, the devastating and lopsided nature of Ronda Rousey’s loss to Amanda Nunes ensured that McGregor rode into 2017 as the unquestioned top draw in the sport, giving the outspoken Irishman more leverage than ever before in negotiations with the UFC.
But that’s not to assume McGregor celebrated the outcome of UFC 207. Far from it actually, if the man himself is to be believed.
“When Ronda lost, I woke up to all these messages. ‘Now let’s see what they do.’ And I’m like, what? I love Ronda, I was always a big supporter of Ronda,” McGregor said last week in Manchester.
“Then she loses that second one and people are trying to make me celebrate, ‘now they’ve got nobody.’ That’s a wrong mindset. I don’t celebrate another’s defeat like that. That’s weak. A weak individual does that. People were trying to celebrate when I lost who had nothing to do with it. That ain’t the sign of a champion. That ain’t the sign of a true champion, so I couldn’t believe it.”
A little over a year after her brutal loss Holly Holm, Rousey suffered another stunning defeat at the hands of Nunes, crumbling from strikes just 48 seconds into the opening round of UFC 207’s main event. The event itself was a unique one, as Rousey used the vast leverage of her comeback bid to secure a nearly non-existent media schedule in the lead-up to the fight — the first ever allowed in UFC history.
And while many observers within MMA contrasted Rousey’s media blackout with the UFC’s decision to yank McGregor from UFC 200 for missing a press conference, McGregor merely shrugged off the comparisons and gave Rousey kudos for negotiating her own terms.
“We’re in on it on our own,” McGregor said. “What someone else is or isn’t allowed, and what somebody does or doesn’t do, has no effect on me and what I do. I’m doing what I do. She’s doing what she’s doing. Everyone else is doing what they’re doing. It is what it is. She didn’t have to do the media and got away with that — that’s great. If they had done that for me, I probably would’ve showed up at UFC 200.
“But we split the card. UFC 200 did great numbers, UFC 202 did great numbers. It also gave me that extra bit of time, that looking back, I probably needed. I probably needed that extra time. So everything worked out perfectly for me. So I’m sitting there and I heard that she requested no media, and they gave her media, I was happy for her because that’s what she asked for. And then I also didn’t give a f*ck. I was just chilling.”
McGregor also dismissed any notion that Rousey’s refusal to speak to the media before UFC 207 affected her performance against Nunes.
“Look, she came in phenomenal shape, Ronda did. I have no doubt she was backstage hungry, training,” McGregor said. “I knew by the shape of her. I knew by looking at her on the scales, she came in with everything. She got hit with a inside leg kick and a jab at the opening bell, and listen, these girls are very, very small. If things go wrong, if you get one crack, everything can just slip away.
“So she handled it her way. I don’t think the way she handled it was incorrect. She did what she had to do. She got away from the spotlight, she focused on her preparation. She got hit early and then went down. That’s it, that’s the fight game. It’s a cruel business. But she handled it the way she should handle it, and she came in shape, and that’s it.”