Wednesday's UFC 202 press conference was simply bonkers.
Water bottles and energy drinks flew across the David Copperfield Theater at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Conor McGregor, armed with two cans of Monster Energy, aimed them at rival fighter Nate Diaz and his entourage as they were being escorted out of the building by security.
"Sorry, guys. See you Saturday," UFC president Dana White concluded over stunned silence and shouts alike. The press conference was over as quickly as it had begun.
Instead of awkward questions, recycled answers and fabricated tension for 30 minutes during the traditionally mundane press conferences, McGregor and Diaz needed all of three minutes to upend everything. It began when Diaz simply stepped off the stage and strutted away with his team shortly after McGregor's arrival, and ended in an adult food fight.
Staged? Well, you be the judge. The emotions seemed raw in real time. But no doubt it provided some much-needed publicity for Saturday night's fight. Fans and pundits proclaimed it an ingenious tactic to drastically improve ticket sales and PPV buys over the following couple of days.
It also led to a series of expected consequences. According to White, the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NAC) could enforce fines and suspensions on both athletes for their erratic and unprofessional behavior. Following a brawl between Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier at a press conference two years ago, the NAC fined Jones $50,000 and 40 hours of community service, while Cormier received a $9,000 fine and 20 hours of community service. A similar outcome is expected for the UFC 202 headliners.
White also added that a lawsuit is currently in motion against McGregor after one of his stray energy drinks allegedly struck a child. Even Nate's older brother Nick Diaz posted a short video on social media with the child who received the blow. "Why would you hit a kid, Conor?" Diaz asked in the video.
The consequences for McGregor's outburst will have to wait, as the Irishman used the upheaval to further promote Saturday night's showdown.
"F--- the Diaz brothers; f--- those cockroaches," McGregor said following his pre-fight open workout the next day. "We came here ready for war, not ready to throw little bitch bottles and go running. We're here ready to fight."
McGregor, who lost to Diaz by submission in their first meeting several months ago, estimated an expense of approximately $300,000 in preparation for the anticipated rematch. After glaring weaknesses emerged during their short notice clash at UFC 196, McGregor worked on his endurance, stamina, and nutrition to ensure the same mistakes do not occur again during his second appearance at welterweight. The Irishman is a natural 145-pound fighter but insisted that he wanted the fight to take place two divisions up at 170 pounds to redeem a loss that continues to plague him. After all, it was Diaz who put an unceremonious end to McGregor's 15-fight win streak and blemished a perfect UFC record.
McGregor simply wants to return the favor.
"That fairytale he's having is coming to an end," he said. "Those little fans giving him this invincible feeling that he can't be knocked out -- he can be knocked out and he will be knocked out."
Diaz has been knockout out once in his 12-year career. The finish occurred in April 2013 when he suffered a technical from a head kick that sent him tumbling to the canvas. The Stockton, Calif., native has since compiled a 3-1 record and will look to extend that even further on Saturday night. However, Diaz plans to do so under the assumption that it would tarnish the UFC's future plans for McGregor.
On UFC Tonight, Diaz revealed that the promotion continues to undermine his success because he is "too real for this whole game." According to Nate, the UFC never wanted him to beat McGregor and has since scheduled the rematch to try and weed him out again.
"It's all good either way though because, it's kill or be killed. Regardless, win or lose, which I plan on winning, my voice is still going to be heard. My mic got too big to not be heard."
Both competitors are motivated to fulfill their ambitions. While their first meeting was the result of desperate matchmaking, the budding series between McGregor and Diaz has become about much more now.
McGregor is in search of redemption. Diaz wants to be heard.
Both are ready to brawl.