Well that escalated quickly.
Nate Diaz may not have been surprised by the outcome of his UFC 196 fight with Conor McGregor, but even he must have been shocked at how Wednesday’s UFC 202 pre-fight press conference played out.
The event, held at the David Copperfield Theater at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, degenerated to a complete fracas that saw both competitors hurling bottles of water and canned energy drinks at each other.
As has been typical of McGregor of late, he was late for the press conference, but instead of waiting, UFC President Dana White decided to start the event without him. “He has to respect other people’s time, man,” he said.
Nearly 20 minutes after the start of the press conference, McGregor arrived, causing a brief distraction during a question for Diaz. “I thought it was half-one,” explained McGregor who also used the Las Vegas traffic as an excuse for his tardiness.
During a question for McGregor about his fighting plans post-UFC 202, Diaz got up and left his seat. After addressing a question from the media, McGregor looks towards Diaz, who can be heard yelling, “F— your whole team, how about that?” from off camera. McGregor then sends the same words back at Diaz, adding in “little crackhead-eses.”
At this point, Diaz can be seen on camera giving McGregor the finger while walking towards the theater exit trailed by his team, which included brother Nick Diaz and Jake Shields.
“Shut your f—ing mouth, you’ll do nothing,” McGregor yelled on mic from his seat while Diaz can be seen screaming back inaudibly from the back of the theater.
This is when the first bottle of water is thrown by Nate Diaz. McGregor swiftly responds by throwing his water bottle back and then getting out of his seat to collect bottles and a can of energy drink from in table in front of co-main event fighter Glover Teixeira and hurls those towards the Diaz camp. Shields and Nick Diaz can also be seen throwing objects towards the stage.
All the while, White pleads for Conor to stop but with no success.
“That’s a wrap. I’m out of here,” White said dejectedly as McGregor is directed physically off the stage by UFC V.P. of Public Relations Dave Sholler. The skirmish ended as quickly as it began and White took the mic one last time to tell everyone, “Sorry guys, see you Saturday.”
Hiscoe’s Analysis: This was a total gong-show, but it can only increase interest in Saturday’s pay-per-view which had felt like was missing some buzz up until this press conference. It was entertaining as hell, but it definitely got out of hand. Throwing full bottles of water and full cans of energy drink through a crowd of fans and media is not safe and McGregor, Diaz, and his crew are lucky no one got hurt (that we know of). There’s almost no chance the fight will be cancelled, but there will likely be fines by the NSAC against Diaz and McGregor. That said, whatever the fine may be, will likely be made up for by their respective cut in the increase in pay-per-view buys this melee surely will generate.
Another item of note is that the story of this rematch had been centered around how obsessed McGregor has been in redeeming himself after the first fight and how focused and unemotional his approach to the fight has been. McGregor took Diaz’s bait exceptionally fast and retaliated in a very emotional and undisciplined manner. If the fight in the cage plays out anything like this press conference did, Diaz could be able to capitalize on McGregor’s mistakes once again.