When Nate Diaz decided to up and leave UFC 202's final pre-fight press conference prematurely and, in the process, steal the spotlight from Conor McGregor, the "Notorious" cauldron of pent-up emotions (and aggression) bubbled over for the mixed martial arts (MMA) world to see. Indeed, his can-throwing reactions were swift, finding himself completely unraveled in a matter of seconds in the arms of a company public relations staffer. McGregor still wanted to talk, but Diaz and his crew made sure that was just not going to happen after showing up 20 minutes late.
"He came in late all cocky, started talking. So Nathan said, okay, he came late, I'm cutting, I'm booking," said Richard Perez, Diaz's striking coach. "So McGregor didn't like it and was speechless and caught him off guard and that made him mad. I thought [Nate] did the right thing, just to walk out and got on McGregor's nerves.
"He didn't like it," he continued. "He didn't know how to handle it. So he acted like a little kid and started throwing bottles, which he shouldn't have, but Nathan got to him. It was a spontaneous thing. It wasn't planned at all. McGregor, I guess he thinks he's the king and can come in when he wants. Nathan was sitting just there talking, he didn't care. And then when he came in, then he just said, you know what, it's my turn to leave."
In one of the many "Bad Blood" previews to promote UFC 202, McGregor insisted that mental warfare is a "strong part of combat." In fact, he said, "I believe there are three forms to break down a man: Mental, physical and verbal.... It gives me a slight nudge, but the skills pay the bills make no mistake about that."
Diaz, though, has seemingly already won the war of words this time around. In addition, he is little more than five months removed from a submission win over the Irishman. That would, by his own definition, give Diaz the clear edge when it comes to completely undressing McGregor.
"I think he's got a lot of people around him and he's trying to pump himself up," Diaz explained at the presser before bolting. "He's either lying to himself, or too worried about his confidence, or trying to make himself believe it. But, he remembers what happened in the last fight. And I think it's a little silly, man. He's got pictures of me up in his garage with him punching me in the face. What the fuck? Who does that? That's trying to make yourself believe something, that's all. I just think he's trying to hype his own self up. But, when he goes to sleep at night, he remembers what happened the last time."
No question, Nate Diaz is Conor McGregor's head. The only question now is how much real estate he is occupying and whether or not it will distract the traditionally unflappable McGregor when it matters most.