McGregor ‘eyeing’ Usman


A year without Conor McGregor seems to have left a void of drama-filled smack talk in the MMA world. But McGregor is making sure it quickly fills back in again as the Irishman is chomping at the bit to break out of recovery and get back into fights. His latest comments have called out welterweight champion Kamaru Usman, who has all but laughed off McGregor’s insults.

Dublin, Ireland’s champion fighter, McGregor (22-6) is beginning to emerge again in the MMA circuit. Being the first fighter in history to simultaneously hold two division titles doesn’t appear to be all he is recognized for. He has his eyes set on further building his legacy — earning three titles in three different divisions, which he has dubbed the “Triple Crown.”

Having been in nearly nine months of rehab, McGregor hasn’t been in an official MMA contest since he suffered his first-round TKO defeat to Dustin Poirier. During the fight in July 2021, he broke both his left tibia and fibula bones. But he has slowly worked his way back through rehabilitation. With the return of his fighting ability, his smack-talk ability is coming back as strong as ever, too.

His mouth leading the way, McGregor recently took aim at Usman, who is 20-1. In recent comments in an interview in his hometown pub, the Black Forge Inn, The Notorious has made it clear he wants to face Usman this summer. Usman is recovering from hand surgery, but is expected to be prepared for a fight in the next few months.

McGregor left no mystery to where he is focused.

“I’m going to waltz my way back into a title, no doubt about it,” McGregor said. “I want that gold belt, I’m going to get that world title with the Irish tricolor emblazoned on it. I’m the reason that tricolor is on the UFC world title.”

All that really needs to be decided is which weight class to compete in. McGregor said he doesn’t see himself going back down to 155. His bulky appearance in the interview doesn’t suggest that’s where he’s looking to be, either.

“I’m lifting and not cutting calories. This is my natural state. I could go bigger, to be honest,” McGregor said. “I’m boiling 170 and don’t want to go above 170. I’m big. I feel strong. I feel healthy. I’ve got good energy.”

He believes some of his best performances have been achieved at this stage and he’s able to think and move clearly.

“I believe myself against Usman for the 175, 170 title for my comeback fight is the one I’m eyeballing at the minute. I feel confident against Usman.”

Then the smack talk begins, with the Notorious calling Usman a “jab-happy, sloppy orthodox wrestler with no submissions whatsoever.”

“What’s he going to do? Where’s the danger? His ground-to-pound isn’t strong. Plus, he’s on the older side,” McGregor said.

Usman, the “The Nigerian Nightmare,” scoffed at the champion lightweight ’s challenge, taking to Twitter to post “You guys want a murder scene in the octagon?” and “He said he’s gonna’ do what????” with images of him laughing. Usman has defended his welterweight title five times and is expected to defend it a sixth time against Leon Edwards. Announcements on that match are expected to be coming soon.

McGregor said he hopes his story and journey will be something to motivate those who have struggled the last few years.

A different side of McGregor

The interview gives a rare look into the entrepreneurial mind of McGregor and offers a perspective glance into how the champion handles business in-and-out of the octagon.

McGregor bought the Crumlin, Dublin pub in 2019 and interviewed just ahead of St. Patrick’s Day, where his customers were set to celebrate for the first time since the purchase of the establishment for £2million. Pandemic restrictions have prohibited large gatherings up until this point.

The small pub is perhaps a paradoxical ambition for McGregor, who is notoriously going after the bigger fish in MMA. But his passion for the space is leading to success and breading profits. McGregor said the pub is dear to his heart. And though he’d be content with owning it at a loss, he said the pub has been a “huge” success.

“I can feel safe coming into it and knew I was going to bring it up to the spec of a premise that I wanted,” McGregor said. “We have a phenomenal chef, a phenomenal menu. An incredible team. It’s unreal. Everything is Irish produce.”

Proud of his culture and with years’ worth of world traveling, McGregor said Irish cuisine is “extremely underrated.” He believes the pub is his contribution to celebrating the Irish tradition and gathering the “best of the best” in one building as a testament to his nation’s greatness.

McGregor said Crumlin locals were mad when he bought the pub as they expected everything to become more expensive. He said he was aware of the sentiment and it has become an important aspect of his operation to keep things affordable and competitive with his local patrons.

His pub is aiming at launching its signature “Forged Stout” in kegs and cans beginning this fall, in time for stout season. He said his team is aiming at a September rollout. He notes stout is a $11 billion industry and has three major brewers making up the majority of the market. He believes his brand could potentially break into the scene and become a force to be reckoned with.

“It’s actually been great to be involved in all of this buzz,” McGregor said. “I really enjoy it.”

McGregor described the stout as light, smooth ,and creamy, something someone could take multiple pours of without noticing.

“I never want to put my name to something that’s not high-quality and I wouldn’t have myself,” McGregor said.

While the pandemic and injury has apparently allowed McGregor to flex his business and muscle, it has also been a chance to hit training furiously. The Irishman has always picked fights with the best, and he wants his comeback fight to be no different. I’m sure he believes only a great takedown against Usman will be able to silent critics and disrespect that has been hurled his way since his injury loss. The fight would also be another great McGregor-led boon to the UFC. Let’s all hope that he can make it happen.