Ultimate Fighting Championship superstar Conor McGregor has confirmed he wants a rematch against UFC 196 opponent Nate Diaz and is open to having celebrity fan Justin Bieber in his corner for a future bout.
Speaking to TMZ in Beverly Hills this weekend, McGregor reiterated he thought he was beating Diaz prior to suffering a second-round defeat via rear-naked choke, and he hopes to earn redemption against the Stockton fighter:
The full transcription of McGregor's comments on a potential rematch read: "I think I'd like to see that, yeah. It's one that interests me most certainly. When I look at the fight, I was winning the fight. I won the first round and a half, I feel. I'd love to get that one back."
The Notorious was unsuccessful on his welterweight debut after making a 25-pound weight jump against Diaz, who filled in as a late replacement for Rafael dos Anjos at UFC 196.
McGregor's first UFC loss was a shock to the majority of the mixed martial arts world and fell on the same night that Miesha Tate surprised Holly Holm to finally clinch the UFC bantamweight women's championship.
UFC President Dana White personally responded to claims that McGregor turned down a potential rematch with Diaz and was forceful in insisting the Dubliner does not back down from a bout:
Dana White @danawhite
@t0iny @TheNotoriousMMA @NateDiaz209 @ufc @John_Kavanagh that's a lie. Conor DOES NOT turn down fights.2016-3-14 09:15:51
McGregor was already making a substantial 10-pound weight jump to meet Dos Anjos at lightweight, but the late announcement of Diaz as his opponent made for an even greater leap.
Given just a week's notice for the fight, Diaz eventually fought at 170 pounds, and McGregor laid into his foe for being unable to drop down further in weight during the pre-fight press conference, per Tristen Critchfield of Sherdog.com. However, Diaz rejected those claims and said he was always willing to fight at 155:
It doesn’t matter. I came to fight. They asked me to fight I said yes, from the beginning. So whatever problems they had, I don’t know, but I came ready to fight. Any weight class it doesn’t matter. There was no hesitation on my part. I was ready to rock the whole time. I said it months ago.
I said 155 from the beginning.
It brings into question where the two would meet in the eventuality both are given full training camps to prepare for a rematch. On one hand, McGregor may want to come back down in weight for fear of once again not working "efficiently," while Diaz has more bargaining power after winning earlier this month.
There's also the notion Diaz could take his leave of the sport after earning the biggest payday of his career against the Notorious. When asked by Extra TV if he'd heard about those rumours, per Bloody Elbow's Anton Tabuena, Diaz replied: "No. But that sounds interesting. I might do that."
McGregor was allowed to run amok through the UFC's featherweight division over these past couple of years or so, but moving up in weight proved to be his downfall, despite winning a lightweight title during his days with the Cage Warriors promotion.
Returning to a lighter division may present McGregor with a chance to once again impose his 5'9" frame, and contender Frankie Edgar has made it known he wishes to stake a claim on the Irishman's featherweight belt:
Frankie Edgar @FrankieEdgar
"1-2, Frankie's coming for you 3-4, You better guard your jaw 5-6, Conor doesn't want this 7-8, July 9 is the... https://t.co/BvyKPkaiKN2016-3-10 17:29:16
McGregor was also quizzed on the possibility of following Floyd Mayweather's lead and having Bieber accompany him on a walk-out to the Octagon in future, to which he replied: "Yeah, sure, why not?"
The links between McGregor and Bieber arose after the pop singer posted a video to his official Instagram toasting the fallen star despite his first loss in the UFC:
It's worth noting McGregor's thumbs up to the idea of a walkout with Bieber was a withered one, however, and following a trend set by boxing great Mayweather may not be the Notorious' style.
That being said, the opportunity to be seen rubbing elbows with one of the biggest artists in the world could be a great chance for business, and everyone is aware of just how much McGregor enjoys that.