"I run this whole thing... I run this whole ship. Without me, none of this happens. Everyone in this game does what they're f-cking told except for me and rightly f-cking so. If I say you're on the prelims, you're on the f-cking prelims, If I say main event, it's the f-cking main event."
It's quotes like these that make it easy to understand why any event featuring #ConorMcGregor — be it an interview, open workout, press conference, or otherwise — has become must-see TV. The man is a walking headline generator, and the one above — taken from last week's #UFC205 conference call — exemplifies everything we've come to expect to the "Notorious" pay-per-view king. Pompous yet self-aware. Profane yet not without wit. It's the kind of quote that I would expect Jack Donaghy to make if he ran an MMA promotion and was three-fifths of the way into a bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue.
Point is, McGregor knows how to control a crowd, and has demonstrated this, repeatedly, in some of the most widely entertaining, endlessly quotable press conferences in the history of the sport. Today's UFC 205 press conference was no different, so we decided to celebrate the final hurdle in the race to this weekend's historic card by ranking McGregor's many media appearances by the very scientific measurement of awesomeness.
Until he stepped foot in the cage to face off with 2-time featherweight title challenger #ChadMendes, Conor McGregor was considered by many to be a talker first and fighter second -- a jabber-jawing, one-dimensional doofus who owed what little UFC success he had to the heavily protected matchmaking of Sean Shelby and Joe Silva. Thank God things have changed... (*saunters away, whistling*)
So, when his year-long world media tour with Jose Aldo was rendered moot by the latter's injury, McGregor likely knew that he would need to turn up his already verbose sh*t-talking game to 11 if he was going to get people interested in a fight against a late replacement opponent with relatively little heat behind him in Mendes (all due respect).
The result was one of the more refined, if calculated verbal takedowns of his fight hyping career, where McGregor tore into Mendes with such abandon that the team Alpha Male product could only respond with the standby accent insults American MMA fighters have been so insistent on going to the well with against the Irishman.
Money quote: (When asked if he made any changes to his camp following Jose Aldo's withdrawal) "Not one bit...my coach came in, it was maybe 1 p.m. and I was still asleep, and he says 'Hey Conor, it looks like Jose's out. It's gonna be Mendes.' I opened one eye, I said 'They are all the same,' I closed my eyes and went back to sleep."
Though highly entertaining in its own right thanks to a spot-on El Chapo button down/pose, the UFC 197 press conference loses major points on account of both McGregor's tardiness and the fact that his fight with then-lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos would never see the light of day.
Money quote: "Me and Jesus are cool. I'm cool with all the Gods because Gods recognize Gods."
Back before McGregor was breaking gate and attendance records with the ferocity that Papa Roach frontman Jacoby Shaddix (Brooooken hooome!!!!), he was actually playing second fiddle to then-light heavyweight champion and future vehicular disaster Jon Jones on the UFC 178 card. It was a time long ago...a year known as 2014. Barack Obama was still President, Dolphin Tale 2 had just come out, and everyone still kind of hated everything. Ah, nostalgia.
Keeping in line with the UFC's typically protected style of matchmaking for its stars, McGregor was paired up against featherweight slugger Dustin Poirier, an absolute tomato can who had won three straight fights beforehand and has won four out his past five fights since. Looking to follow-up on his epic headlining gig at Dublin's O2 Arena in his last bout, it was here that the persona of Conor McGregor truly began to take shape.
McGregor came out of the gate hot by stating his dislike for the state of California, then predicting the grizzly fate that awaited his opponent. All the classics were there -- talks of disintegrating chins ("a gust of wind and he does the chicken dance"), heads being taken clean off, jaws clattering off the canvas...it was incredibly entertaining.
Money quote: Definitely that moment when a fan asked for Conor's fashion advice and proceeded to get roasted by both him and Jones.
Understandably, the lead-up to McGregor's rematch with #NateDiaz at UFC 202 wasn't as boisterous as what we've come to expect from the featherweight champion. McGregor's veil of invincibility had been shattered by Diaz just 5 months earlier at #UFC196, forcing Mystic Mac to go all Rocky 3 and withdraw from all media appearances to focus on his training just to make sure it didn't happen again.
The press conference itself was a relatively standard affair at first, with McGregor promising to KO Diaz stiff and Diaz responding with f-words and Stockton Heybuddies, but then, some 20 minutes into the event, something...odd happened. Seemingly fed up with the monotonous BS of pre-fight press rituals, Diaz decided to up and leave the conference at his brother's behest, opting to flip McGregor off from afar on his way out of the building.
One thing led to another, and before we knew it, McGregor and the Diaz crew were engaging in an all-out snowball fight right there in the T-Mobile Arena, only instead of snowballs they were using water bottles and Monster Energy cans. McGregor was fined an insane $150,000 for the melee when all was said and done, and subsequently stated his desire to never fight in Nevada again.
Money quote: "You'll do fookin' nuttin'."
"Go Big" Press Conference
This is a biggy -the birth of "red panty night," "I can change your bum life" and countless other staples of the McGregor lexicon. Seemingly operating on an amount of cocaine that would have KO'd Scarface's heart stiff, McGregor proceeded to hijack a conference that featured the likes of #RondaRousey, #DanielCormier and more, and make it The McGregor Show via a string of brutal insults aimed at Jose Aldo, Chad Mendes, Rafael dos Anjos and anyone who dared interrupt him.
Money quote: The whole "red panty night" thing, obviously.
While today's #UFC205 press conference does get bonus points for including a walk-off, a mink coat, and an attempted chair shot, I gotta give the nod to September's presser for two moments:
1. McGregor's absolutely crushing response to being called out by Jeremy Stephens (around 47:20 of the video above), which I have watched approximately 500 times since and laughed like Karolina Kowalkiewicz every time.
2. The moment wherein a fan seemingly disguised himself as a reporter (though let's be honest, there was never much of a divide between the two to begin with) and got on the mic just to (incorrectly) fact-check Eddie Alvarez before flipping him off. Even as an Alvarez fan, that was just tops, you guys.
Money quote: "Who da fook is that guy?"
Pound-for-pound, you would be hard-pressed to find anything more entertaining than Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz talking trash to one another for 28 straight minutes. It's like eating an endless bowl of ice cream without the brain freeze or suffocating guilt of being such a worthless piece of human garbage afterwards.
This press conference was basically a rap battle where both guys were Eminem in 8 Mile: McGregor mocked Diaz's gangster persona, and Diaz responded by accusing him of steroid use. Both guys made it an adamant point to declare that they gave the fewer fucks than the other, and MMA Twitter basically exploded from the hysteria of it all. As the kids say, it was fire emoji praise hands emoji double eggplant emoji.
Money quote: "I like Nick's little bro. He's like a little cholo gangster from the hood, but at the same time he coaches kids Jiu Jitsu on a Sunday morning and goes on bike rides with the elderly. He makes gang signs with the right hand and animal balloons with the left."