There is no shortage of confidence pulsing through Conor McGregor.
Since the fast-talking Irishman burst onto the UFC scene last year, he's captivated MMA media headlines and grabbed the amount of spotlight typically reserved for an established superstar. From the full "black out" entrance he received in his promotional debut on the preliminary portion of Fight Night 26, to the social media war he ignited with the current upper tier of the featherweight division, every move McGregor has made has been about making noise. And he's been successful in doing so.
Those theatrical elements in addition to two dominant victories inside the Octagon have the John Kavanagh-trained fighter on the verge of breaking through to the next level of recognition with the MMA fan base. The opportunity to do so will come on July 19, when the UFC breaks a five-year absence from Dublin, Ireland for Fight Night 46. "Notorious" is slated to settle his feud with Cole Miller in the main event on the card and the two brash-talking featherweights have spent the past two months trading barbs online and during conference calls.
On Tuesday afternoon, the UFC hosted another conference call to promote the upcoming event, with both fighters scheduled to be in attendance. Yet, when the organization got things rolling, it was only McGregor on the call and he used his time with the media to explain a few things in greater detail.
Where the one-hour time slot could have turned into "McGregor's Rolling Festival of Trash-Talk," the surging prospect fielded every question that came his way with depth, heart and sincerity. While the topics ranged from him being the flag carrier for Irish MMA, to how he believes he would fair against the current best in the division, McGregor let his passion for all things fighting show through.
One of the more poignant moments came when his confidence and championship mentality came into question. McGregor not only explained his personal focus, but his bafflement with what he sees going on in the UFC ranks from his peers.
"I want those targets on my back," McGregor told the media on the call. "I want every one of them. I don't understand how so many of these guys are signed to the UFC, have had so many fights with the UFC, and have no aspirations whatsoever for the title. They have never once mentioned the champion. They have never once put themselves out there to get that championship opportunity. I don't understand that. From the first day I signed last year, my eyes were on the gold. I don't understand people who don't think like that. Everyone who is in the way of my goal is in the firing line. The way I'm doing it is the right way and there are just so many guys who have no aspiration to win the belt. They shouldn't be there.
"Cole [Miller] I believe is one of them. What are his aspirations? Have you ever heard Cole Miller mention the belt? Have you ever once heard him say he wants to fight for the title? I'm out here walking to become the greatest. That is my goal. I'm looking to go down as the greatest of all time, in the Hall of Fame...a history maker. He's walking to be a test for me. That's the difference.
"My goal from the beginning was to make it to the big time," he added. "That's how I approach it and I don't understand how all these other schmucks approach it. They can stand around getting their half-a**** paychecks then go home, but that's not me. The UFC has given me everything I've asked for. Why wouldn't you keep asking for bigger things? I'm going to keep asking and I'm going to keep taking."
As the call went deeper, the line of questioning moved off his upcoming bout with Miller and onto the hornet's nest of talent in the upper ranks of the featherweight division. When answering questions about a potential bout with champion Jose Aldo and how he would fair against the other top fighters in the division, the tenacity ratcheted up in McGregor's voice as the showman took over.
"I'm supremely confident," McGregor responded when asked his thoughts on the top-ranked fighters at 145 pounds. "I haven't been impressed with anything I've seen. I haven't looked at anyone in the division and thought they were on my level. I just don't see it. I know at times I come across as being disrespectful, but I believe what I'm saying is the truth. Not one of them move the way I move. Not one of them. Not one of them are prepared for what I'm bringing.
"I can sit there and say it all day. I can say it in every interview—and I do—but it all comes down to when it actually happens. That's when you will know. Only time can answer these questions for you, and for anyone who has doubt in their minds. But for me, I already know the answer. I know what is going to happen.
"There is something I see in every one of their games," he added. "It is not just Aldo, but something I see in all of them. I'm better than all of them everywhere. I'm definitely a different challenge than the champion has faced before. I think the timing for me to get a title shot is perfect. I'm going to steamroll through Cole, skip that tier and get my shot. It's perfectly set up for me and I've never been impressed with Aldo. He's not spontaneous enough and he's too flat-footed. I'm too dynamic."
Duane Finley is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report. All quotes are obtained firsthand unless noted otherwise.
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