UFC 189 will take place this Saturday night at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, as Conor McGregor will face Chad Mendes for the interim world title.
McGregor was originally sated to face Jose Aldo, but Aldo had to withdraw from the fight after fracturing his rib while training.
“It is what it is,” McGregor told Damon Amendolara, who was filling in as host of CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “You cannot force a man who was afraid to step in there and fight. I must accept it. It’s not the best thing for me. We put a lot of work into it. He should have manned up and stepped in and fought. He talked the talk, but ultimately he did not walk the walk. But it’s a bittersweet feeling because now we have an opponent who people have said will be my kryptonite – the American wrestler (Mendes). I look forward to dominating this fight and raising the belt.”
McGregor said that neither he nor anyone in his camp has had contact with Aldo – or anyone in Aldo’s camp – since the fight was changed.
“If he doesn’t want to fight, he doesn’t want to fight,” McGregor said. “I cannot force him.”
McGregor was napping when his coach woke him up and informed him of the opponent change.
“I opened one eye, I said, ‘They are all the same,’ and that was it,” McGregor recalled. “I closed my eyes and went back to sleep. This is the way I approach the game. As long as I’ve ben in this game, I’ve had people pulling out of contests with me left and right, even before I signed with UFC. I remember one fight right before I signed with the UFC, I had six opponent changes. Right on the day, people were pulling out – pulling out at the weigh-in.
“So this is something that I’ve experienced time and time again,” McGregor continued. “Of course not at this magnitude and on this scale, but make no mistake: It is something I have experienced before and I am comfortable with. I prepare with multiple body types. I have a 20-strong team out here in Las Vegas with me that I flew out. My team has been with me since day one – of all shapes and all sizes and all different skill levels. So every day I am faced with different body types and different movements and different reactions, so an opponent change does not make a difference to me. I am skilled and I am prepared.”
If McGregor (17-2, 15 KOs) seems flashy and brash, that’s because he is. He’s won 13 straight fights and has become arguably the biggest star in the UFC men’s division.
Still, there are those who say McGregor is more showman than fighter.
Does that perception get annoying?
“There’s always something,” McGregor said. “They’ll always say something. I talk to the talk, but here I am walking the walk. You know, 99.9 percent of (others) would have pulled out of this contest and set in the wings and waited their turn. They would have waited for Jose to heal up and return, but not me. I step in and I fight. I was prepared to fight at any weight. They can say what they want. They can say I’m all talk, but here I am walking.”