Las Vegas, NV — The roller coaster ride that is the career of Conor McGregor is pulling into the station in Las Vegas this weekend. For those just climbing aboard, McGregor’s journey has been a tumultuous one over the past few years.
In fact even the most ardent of MMA fans would have a hard time keeping track of all the Conor-related scandal and scuttlebutt.
There are valid questions about just what has been going on in McGregor’s personal life over the past year or two. Of course, ask them at the wrong time, and you may end up booed out of the building.
There are other questions that come to mind regarding McGregor’s turbulent existence, however. The price of fame, for one. Speaking to reporters including Cageside Press at the UFC 246 media day on Thursday, McGregor addressed just that.
“I always said f*ck the fame, I never got in it for the fame,” he exclaimed. “It’s just been a necessary part of it. It certainly has its pros and cons. I think one day I may just log off, and do a back step out of it all. Because it’s a wild game, and sometimes it’s tough.”
It’s hard to imagine McGregor pulling a vanishing act akin to Keyser Soze, but no doubt everyone has a breaking point. The Irish star added that “I’m very grateful for the position I’m in, I’m very grateful for the support I have of the people. If it brings in some bad, I just think if I keep my focus right and my positivity sharp, and keep the people that I respect around me, that will overcome all of that.”
Asked to give an example of some of the “bad” fame has brought with it, McGregor didn’t give specifics. But he did admit that “sometimes it feels like a witch hunt at times. It’s not so much me, I’m cool with it being me, I understand it. It’s the people, it’s my family and things like that, it gets a little bit heavy at times. But I understand it’s a necessary evil, and I also understand people have real problems.”
“This is not a real problem,” he continued. “I rolled up in a bleeding Rolls Royce truck. My family’s back home, my son is playing in the pool in our Vegas home. People have real problems, so I’m very, very blessed. Although it comes with its downsides, the upsides outweigh that, and I’m very, very proud and grateful for that.”
In the spirit of keeping out the bad, McGregor has tackled his UFC 246 media duties with a positive vibe. He surprised many at Wednesday’s pre-fight press conference by being gracious with opponent Donald Cerrone. Asked about the experience, McGregor answered that “I have to say I enjoyed it. It was good. There was a competitive spirit there, a good energy in the crowd.”
He sees it as a welcome change. “Happy days,” as he put it. But make no mistake, there’s still pressure. “There’s still weight on the shoulders,” he said, regardless of the jovial atmosphere. Still, he added, “I enjoy it. I enjoy these moments. This is what I love to do. It’s good to be back.”
“It’s a different response between me and Donald, but it’s still a high intensity bout. Make no mistake, I’m coming with all my intent, and all my skills, to put Donald away,” he added. And if he does indeed put Cowboy Cerrone away, what comes next could get interesting.
A possible lightweight title fight with the winner of Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson awaits later this year. “I think regardless of the result, I should probably face both of these men,” McGregor suggested. “I would like to face both of these men. I’d like to face Tony Ferguson.”
“There’s history with Tony,” he noted. “I’d like a bout with Tony at some stage. Of course the rematch [with Khabib], we must make that rematch. I’m pushing for the Moscow bout, I’d love to do that. Both men are in the cross-hairs.”
Then there’s the welterweight division, which is where McGregor vs. Cerrone is set. “I made this bout at 170 for the excitement that’s going on in the 170lb division, and my want to get in there with this situation. For the bad m*therfucker belt, or the actual world championship belt. So both of those men [Jorge Masvidal and Kamaru Usman] are on my radar.”
Ultimately, however, it matters not when it comes to who he fights next, McGregor said. “Which ever one comes up first, to be honest. I just want activity. I’m going to go in, I’m looking to acquire rounds. I’m not going to be in a rush, I’m going to put pressure on Donald. I’m going to hurt Donald, but if he can last, I’ll be happy. I’ll be happy to acquire rounds in here, and then build on those rounds.”
What he’s looking for, said McGregor, is to return to the feeling he had in the Eddie Alvarez fight, at UFC 205. “I just felt like I was in prime condition, and untouchable. So I’m looking to acquire that timing again.”
Watch the full UFC 246 media day press conference with Conor McGregor above!