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McGregor doesn't disappoint in verbal war with Diaz

TORRANCE, California

Hundreds of fans lined up here early in the morning on the side of the UFC Gym building in searing 80-something degree temperatures with no relief from the sun.

Thank goodness for the comic relief and entertainment from UFC featherweight champion, Conor McGregor.
 


As he always does, McGregor delighted his fans at the UFC 196 press conference Wednesday by starting and engaging in an expletive, insult-ridden war of words with his new opponent in the main event, lightweight contender Nate Diaz, just over a week before their March 5 battle in Las Vegas.

McGregor - the popular Irishman who just arrived from Ireland this week - agreed to jump two weight classes to fight Diaz at 170 pounds. The agreement came Tuesday after lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos pulled out of his UFC 196 title defense against McGregor, citing a broken foot injury.

McGregor didn't buy it. He saw the picture Dos Anjos posted of his injured foot on social media.

"Did you see it? It's a bruise. Ice. Ibuprofen," McGregor yelled.

RELATED: Dos Anjos responds to McGregor

He is a master at making adjustments, and McGregor was superb at selling his new matchup, the headliner on a night that also features the UFC women’s bantamweight champion Holly Holm vs. Miesha Tate.

He brought a heavyweight fight to the verbal sparring on Wednesday. And while the appearance was originally scheduled to be an open workout and media session with McGregor and Dos Anjos, not to worry.

McGregor landed plenty of jabs, kicks and takedowns. He congratulated Diaz on becoming rich after signing to fight him. It's a similar tactic used by Ronda Rousey, who famously says she's always glad she can help her opponents buy a new house.

"How's it feel to be a millionaire?" McGregor asked, holding his arms wide open, as if to welcome Diaz to his club. "It's nice, isn't it?"

The pro-McGregor crowd got a healthy dose of the Irishman’s fight-selling antics, and for the first time in a while, a McGregor opponent fought back in the war of words.

"He's in a little man weight division," Diaz said, holding his hand at about the size of a child's height. "I've been fighting grownups for 10 years."

RELATED: Social media reacts to the heated press conference

Back and forth they went. "You fought midgets," Diaz bellowed. "You knocked out three midgets, and you're pumped up?"

This isn't the first time McGregor has been forced to regroup days before a scheduled matchup, only to have to prepare for another fighter in the Octagon. He said he prepares for fights, not opponents.

It's McGregor's world, and all other fighters are just living in it.

"I'm prepared. I'm fit," said McGregor, the UFC featherweight champion who was accompanied by his belt on the dais. "(Not fighting for) the (lightweight) belt stung for a little bit, but it really doesn't matter what weight or what belt is on the line. I should create my own belt. Featherweight, lightweight, it's the McGregor belt. I'm fighting for my own belt."

Fans roared in approval.

The 27-year-old Irishman was cheered loudly and his name was chanted often during the media event. He's made-for-TV, in and out of the Octagon.

"The only weight I give a (expletive) about are my checks, and those are heavyweight," McGregor said.

MORE ON UFC 196: Buy Tickets to UFC 196 | Check out the stacked fight card | Join UFC FIGHT PASS to watch all the best fights of McGregor and Diaz featured in Faceoff collection | Free Fights: McGregor vs. Chad Mendes | McGregor vs. Diego Brandao | Holly Holm vs. Ronda Rousey | Miesha Tate vs. Jessica Eye

Several fighters were considered as replacement opponents for McGregor, and he took a shot at everyone whom he said didn't want to make a deal.

"First of all, everyone went away all of a sudden," McGregor said. "Everyone wanted it and then they didn't want it. At least Nate was engaging in the conversation. Everyone else went flat-out running. Instantly, he became the frontrunner.”

Diaz said he would come down in weight to fight McGregor, but McGregor denied that and said he gave Diaz what he wanted at 170.

Diaz said: "I don't give a (expletive)." McGregor countered: "I don't give an (expletive), either."

The f-bombs were fired back and forth. McGregor mostly turned to his left to face Diaz, and Diaz often looked ahead at media and fans in front of him.

"I like Nick's little brother," McGregor said, referring to Nate Diaz's brother, Nick, a two-time world champion fighter. "I do."

McGregor's insults were backhanded and straightforward and every which way. He's as quick with his wit as he is with his feet in the Octagon.

"I do respect Nate, don't get me wrong," McGregor said. "There's a lot of (expletives) in this game, and he is not one of them. There's a respect there between us, but it's business in there and business is business and he will be KO'd."

When Diaz was asked the same, he stared ahead and just shook his head to the side.

Diaz even accused McGregor of doing steroids by saying "Everybody does steroids."

"Don't put my name in steroids, mate," McGregor said.

McGregor's popularity is soaring, and he's featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated this week. He bragged about walking into shops on Rodeo Drive and feeling the fabric of expensive clothes on his skin.

Diaz, who is from Stockton, responded: "Yeah, I'll buy a whole bunch of that (expletive)."

McGregor wasn't wearing any of those custom-made suits on this day. He wore a grey UFC tank top and black sweats.

Perfect for all the sweat that comes with his entertaining and expletive-filled war of words.

Jill Painter Lopez is a reporter for FOX Sports West in Los Angeles. She was an award-winning, longtime sports columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News and has worked for Time Warner Cable in L.A. She is also a contributor to the New York Times. Follow her on Twitter at @jillpainter

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