Former European, British and Commonwealth super-middleweight boxing champion George "Saint" Groves has proclaimed he would "love to have a crack" at Ultimate Fighting Championship superstar Conor McGregor.
Speaking at the launch of EA Sports UFC 2 this week, Groves commented on a potential career in mixed martial arts and said McGregor didn't prepare properly for his defeat to Nate Diaz at UFC 196, per Bruce Archer of the Daily Express:
If McGregor is going to float around my weight and wants to do a pay-per-view fight and he wants to swear at me and call me names then I'd love to have a crack (at him).
I think it'd make for a very interesting fight. And as I say, with him being predominantly a striker that's a huge thing as well.
So he ain't gonna try and take me down. Unless he's tired and he wants to tap out.
Groves' career has diverted away from the boxing spotlight since he suffered back-to-back defeats against Carl Froch in 2013 and 2014, while McGregor himself is at a low after conceding his first loss in the UFC.
Saint paid his respects to the Irish MMA star before going on to outline his view that McGregor was lacking in preparation for his bout opposite Diaz, as he lost via rear-naked choke in the second round:
I like him. He's ballsy and nuts and he doesn't care.
I think he was unfit for that last fight, he looked it to me anyway.
He's always out and about and he's always up to something. Really, if I was in a big fight, you're in the gym and you're in bed. It's a boring life, you enjoy it after your fight or you enjoy it after you career - not in-between.
It'd be hard to be him I'm sure. But I think probably losing will be the best thing for him now because then he'll know he can't get away with the stuff he's probably got away with before.
You don't know that you're doing something wrong until you make a mistake.
The Notorious has become a high-profile character since rising to the throne of mixed martial arts in the last few years, and it's no secret the trash-talk veteran embraces the limelight showered upon him.
That trend didn't change leading up to the Diaz fight earlier in March. McGregor made the move up to 170 pounds after lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos—his original UFC 196 opponent—was forced to pull out with a broken foot.
Groves further enticed his potential MMA followers and stated his intention to "slip off somewhere to hide in and do a year's worth of training," almost akin to Rocky Balboa's style of preparation to face Ivan Drago in Rocky IV.
Another high-profile name who is making his transition to MMA from another sport is former World Wrestling Entertainment star CM Punk. Punk—real name Phillip Brooks—is set to face Mickey Gall in his debut, but MMA writer Jim Edwards has voiced concern with this sort of "experiment":
Jim Edwards @MMA_Jim
I think we just got to embrace the CM Punk experiment - as long as it doesn't happen too frequently https://t.co/TNLjeGJzLY2/14/2016, 6:39:33 PM
By some coincidence, it was Diaz's boxing proficiency that helped him submit McGregor and hand him his first defeat since 2010, and perhaps Groves feels he'd be able to employ similar tactics were he to make an MMA transition.
At 27 years of age, Groves wouldn't be considered too old to transfer from one combat sport to another, but calling out one of the best in the business is an audacious move on his part:
In boxing, the super-middleweight limit of 168 pounds would be most close to the welterweight limit of 170 pounds in mixed martial arts, and it was here that McGregor suffered his first UFC defeat.
It's more than likely the Dubliner will seek to move back down closer to featherweight, where he's more familiar, for his next bout. Meanwhile, Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn recently confirmed Groves is set to make his return to the ring next month against the undefeated David Brophy:
Eddie Hearn @EddieHearn
Delighted to add @StGeorgeGroves to the party on the huge April 9 night taking on 17-0 Scotland's @David_Brophy @SauerlandBros 👊🏼3/17/2016, 5:12:08 PM
Groves admitted he has a long way to go before he'd be competent against "guys who do jiu-jitsu and wrestlers," but he's already versed in the combat sports world and appears willing to graft.
It may be a long, long time before Saint George is ready to adapt his boxing roots and embrace a more rounded combat sport, but McGregor may be willing to give the Briton a not-so-warm welcome if he does.