USA TODAY US Edition
MMA SAVED FOES MCGREGOR, DIAZ IN DIFFERENT WAYS
UFC 196 on Saturday (10 p.m. ET, pay-per view) in Las Vegas will feature co-main events: Conor McGregor vs. Nate Diaz and Holly Holm vs. Miesha Tate. Here are five things to know about McGregor and Diaz:
1 Getting all the ink. McGregor hasn’t just made himself known with his mouth and dominant performances in the octagon. His tattoos also have garnered attention, including a tiger that was later encircled with the words “McGregor Notorious” on his midsection. “I like getting them done, and I will get more of them done. I know (UFC President) Dana (White) doesn’t like them,” McGregor told Fox Sports last year. “(UFC CEO) Lorenzo (Fertitta) doesn’t mind them, but Dana doesn’t want me to get them.”
2 Clogged drain. McGregor became an apprentice plumber after he finished high school at 17 in Ireland. “It was a rough time for me,” McGregor said. “I did not like the life. Being a plumber did not interest me. One day, I said, ‘(Expletive) it,’ and I quit. I went home and told my father, ‘There’s not a hope in hell you’re going to get me back on that building site.” A fistfight broke out between father and son. “He might have whooped my ass, but I still didn’t go back to that building site.”
3 McGregor targeted by bullies. McGregor has talked about how he was “a little, skinny kid” who was bullied during is formative years in Dublin. “I got into situations where I was afraid, a little scared kid basically,” McGregor said in an interview on an Irish TV network. “There was a group of people I had to walk by every day, and they would chase me, attack me.” McGregor cited that as the reason he got into mixed martial arts.
4 McGregor was on welfare before UFC. McGregor followed a first-round TKO victory against Marcus Brimage in his UFC debut with a startling revelation. “Just last week I was collecting the social welfare,” McGregor said at the post-event news conference. “I was in there saying to them, ‘I don’t know what’s going to happen. I’m signed to the UFC. I don’t know. Blah, blah, blah.’ Now I suppose I’m just going to have to tell them, ‘(Expletive) off!’ ” He earned $60,000 for the Knockout of the Night honors, one of six times McGregor earned a post-fight bonus.
5 Torn ACL? No problem. Only once in McGregor’s seven fights was he unable to knock out his opponent: his bout against Max Holloway in August 2013. McGregor tore his anterior cruciate ligament, sprained his medial collateral ligament and tore his meniscus in the second round against Holloway. (McGregor won via decision.) McGregor, who was sidelined for 11 months after having knee surgery, again injured his ACL weeks before he faced Chad Mendes in UFC 189 in July but netted a second-round TKO to claim the interim featherweight belt.
RECORD: 18-10-0 AGE: 30
1Green movement. His brother, Nick, has been suspended by the UFC three times for marijuana use. While Nate Diaz has never been banned for drug use, he said in an interview in March 2013 that pot isn’t a big deal. “It’s not that embarrassing of a thing,” he said. “It’s from the earth. You plant it. You smoke it.”
2 No meat. Nick and Nate Diaz stick to a pescetarian diet in which they eat fish but not meat. “(Meat and cheese) grosses me out nowadays,” Nate Diaz told Fox Sports. “There’s a long list of garbage they put in your food. ... It’s just the way I live, man.”
3 MMA over
gangs. Diaz’s mother, Melissa Diaz, said she moved the family to Morada, Calif., a suburb of Stockton, a city that has struggled for years with gang violence. “I wanted to keep them out there so they couldn’t get in trouble,” Melissa Diaz said. Nick Diaz was the first to find the allure of MMA as a teen, and Nate Diaz followed his brother into the sport not long afterward.
4 Toy guns not allowed. Melissa Diaz hasn’t watched her sons fight in person while they’ve been in the UFC. Moreover, she had a household rule when it came to simulated violence. “I didn’t let them play with guns, and I taught non-violence,” Melissa Diaz said.
5 Business casual. Nate Diaz wore jeans to the weighin for UFC on Fox 17 in December and said he was fined as a result. Reebok is UFC’s official clothing partner, and fighters can be fined for knowingly and seriously violating the athlete outfitting policy during public appearances, although Diaz said on Twitter that Reebok made the jeans.