After dozens of interviews on the media day set up to promote his UFC 194 main event, Conor McGregor’s interest was piqued when told that John Kavanagh had seemingly given away his deepest, darkest secret.
“What did John say?” asked the interim UFC featherweight champion
It was far from negative. McGregor’s longtime coach, always a straight shooter, revealed that despite the flashy image and constant talk of fame and money from his charge, “The Notorious” wasn’t motivated by any of that. Instead, it was all about the competition.
“I am certainly motivated by the competition,” McGregor said. “I enjoy new challenges and the prospect of silencing critics and proving the people that are supporting me correct. As well, I am also motivated by money. It is not the only thing, but it is certainly a small thing.”
The fighting pride of Dublin, Ireland laughed, clearly at ease as the biggest fight of his life against Jose Aldo approached. That wasn’t the case five months earlier, when a knee injury, an opponent change and an emotional interim title fight against Chad Mendes all conspired to put McGregor in an ill mood.
Given everything that happened in the early summer, no one would have blamed McGregor if he decided to withdraw from the UFC 189 bout after Aldo pulled out due to injury. But he didn’t. It said a lot about a fighter some assumed was all flash, but little substance. To defeat Mendes said even more.
“Winning the fight and going through with the fight, that's my character, my mental strength,” he said. “The reason I didn't pull out was because a lot of people saved up so much money to travel and take part in the event, and then there were the people who created the event – Lorenzo (Fertitta), Dana (White), the company – and everyone who works so hard, and so much work went into it. If I would have walked, it would have flushed the company's money down the toilet, and that's not what I'm about. I'm about generating revenue for this great company, generating revenue for myself, and giving the fans what they paid for.”
Saturday night, McGregor will make the walk again, and this time Aldo will be waiting for him. It’s a fight so long in the making that you wonder how the 27-year-old can keep his intensity up like he has. But to him, this has never been an issue.
More UFC 194: Aldo vs. McGregor Content: Watch: UFC 194 Embedded: Ep. 1 - Ep. 2 - Ep. 3 - Ep. 4 - Ep. 5 - Ep. 6 | Watch UFC 194 on FOX Embedded | Open Workout Highlights | Press Conference Highlights | Top 5 Media Day Moments | Robin Black's Main Event Breakdown | Rankings Report: UFC 194 Preview | Read: Aldo-McGregor Put on Show at Open Workouts | McGregor's Winning Mentality | In Brazil Aldo is King | Rockhold confident it's his time | Weidman brings the swagger | Pre-order UFC 194 digitally
“It's not hard for me to get motivated,” he said. “I am self-motivated, I am still young in the game and I have a lot more to do. If anything, I am more motivated. To come through what I came through, to face that adversity and conquer it and still hear doubters, it's pushed me on a helluva lot.”
Does he still believe that there are those who doubt his right to be competing against Aldo in this main event, especially after his come from behind knockout of Mendes in July?
“They'll always be out there,” McGregor said nonchalantly. “I don't take it personally. I enjoy it, it amuses me from time to time. So I enjoy going out and proving them wrong and even more importantly, proving the people who are with me correct.”