Fight fans have grown accustomed to UFC featherweight champion Conor McGregor talking trash and bragging about his newfound wealth and popularity. On Thursday afternoon, however, the brash Irishman took a few moments to talk about something a bit deeper - personal growth.
"Of course, it was an enjoyable experience going through those two contests," McGregor told media members during a Thursday conference call.
"I grew as a fighter."
After knocking Jose Aldo out in December to earn the featherweight world title, McGregor fought lightweight Nate Diaz at welterweight, twice. In March, Diaz submitted McGregor in under two rounds.
Then, in August, the two contested an epic rematch that went the full five scheduled rounds. Diaz finished the bout stronger, but McGregor earned a majority decision victory, evening the score with the Stockton contender.
Throughout the build-up and to and during the two fights themselves, McGregor and Diaz exchanged plenty of loud and mean spirited insults. Still, insightful fans could sense that a great deal of mutual respect lay beneath it all.
The two hugged it out, after the second bout, but have continued to blast and challenge one another in the media, since. If they ever fight again, as both men and likely most fans want, the Diaz vs. McGregor rubber match will have to wait for a bit.
Right now, McGregor readies to challenge lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez Nov. 12 at UFC 205 in New York City's Madison Square Garden. The notorious warrior believes he'll be walking into the cage a better, more learned fighter.
McGregor knows that the lessons he learned over two training camps and nearly seven rounds in just a few months against Diaz have changed him, and he believes changed him for the better.
"Everything happens for a reason," he continued.
"I went through those two contests - they were great contests - and I grew a lot as a fighter. And, that's it. Here we are. It's like I've come full-circle for it."