Conor McGregor in ESPN’s Body Issue blames weight mismanagement, cardio on UFC 196 loss to Nate Diaz

By Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief

Conor McGregor (Photo credit Gary A. Vasquez © USA Today)

Conor McGregor is appearing in this year’s annual “Body Issue” from ESPN The Magazine, and in an interview surrounding the magazine spot, the Irishman blamed a change in his eating habits with the late notice shift to welterweight at UFC 196 for his loss to Nate Diaz.

Conor McGregor body issue 1

“I am forever, forever learning,” McGregor said. “I think in the last fight [against Nate Diaz in March], I mismanaged my weight. I was working with my nutritionist for the lightweight title fight to make 155 pounds. I was on track. Nine days out from the fight, I’m in phenomenal condition, and then the weight got changed [to 170] and all of a sudden I’m 10 pounds below and I’m like, I don’t need this diet because I need to eat up to the weight. So I threw that out. I disengaged from that. I started eating two steaks a day, two breakfasts. I’d have a coffee and some cookies with that, please, also. I’d be in the gym six to eight hours on fight week. I’ve got bags of energy. I can do this all day. But it came back and bit me in the ass. My body went into shock. I overtrained and then mismanaged the weight, and it came back to bite me on the ass.

“…I entered that last fight full. I was full in every sense. My plate was full, my belly was full. That’s not why we fight. We originally fight for food, to eat. We fight hungry. The birth of fighting is to eat. So I’m happy with the lessons learned. I feel like my gut has been emptied again, like I am hungry again.”

McGregor still believes he was winning the fight prior to his body quitting on him, and believes he’s going to have no problem winning the rematch on August 20.

“There ain’t many people going up 25 pounds to fight on the drop of a hat, in nine days,” McGregor argued. “I rocked up to 170 [for the Diaz fight in March]. Never fought at 170 in my life. I rocked up no problem. I slapped the head off of him for nine minutes of that fight. Look at his face. I busted him up. With the correct tank, the correct approach, I’m going to cakewalk this next one if we can get to that point.”

Penick’s Analysis: It’s very possible that McGregor taking a different approach to hitting 170 lbs. leads to a different outcome. It’s also very possible that he’s deluding himself about what happened to him in the fight. That’s the driving intrigue behind the rematch at UFC 202, and why it’ll be another very big fight for both fighters and the UFC. If weight management and cardio really hurt him as bad as he believes it did, fixing that might allow him to continue what he was doing in the early portions of that fight. Of course, keeping that up for five rounds might not be in the cards regardless, and he needs to find a way to put Diaz away.

[Photo (c) Gary A. Vasquez via USA Today Sports]

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