In his first interviews following a surprisingly quiet training camp ahead of Saturday's trilogy fight headlining UFC 264 in Las Vegas, Conor McGregor admitted he was looking past Dustin Poirier in their January rematch while preparing for a boxing match with Manny Pacquiao.
McGregor (22-5), who was stopped via strikes for the first time in his career just six months ago when Poirier (27-6, 1 NC) evened their rivalry with a second-round TKO, told ESPN's Stephen A. Smith on Wednesday that his mindset is completely different for their third fight this weekend at T-Mobile Arena.
"I'm coming in to kill this man," McGregor said. "I'm coming in with vicious intent here. Mortar shots. What else can I say? That's the way it is.
"I'm looking to take this man out cold."
According to McGregor, a boxing match against the eight-division champion Pacquiao was expected to take place in the spring, immediately after the second Poirier fight at UFC 257. Not only did McGregor's loss alter his future plans, but the Irish star who will turn 33 next week said he only gave Poirier the second fight due to a mixture of pity and respect.
"I pitied the man," McGregor said. "I was looking past him. I had a Manny Pacquiao camp in place."
Gone in the build to January's rematch was the trash-talking McGregor that fans had grown to equally love and hate as the biggest pay-per-view draw in the sport's history. McGregor admits now he was far too friendly to Poirier and will change that this week.
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"I am a nice guy," McGregor said. "It's just about not translating it into the game. You can't be nice in this business. No matter what. It's hard to go face-to-face and want to tear through a man and then hold your son and your daughter and give them a bottle and feed them.
"In the most ruthless business of all, I am the most ruthless."
Asked why he has been so quiet publicly this training camp save for a handful of trolling tweets aimed at Poirier, McGregor told The Mac Life on Wednesday that he's "just focused, keeping the enemy in a suspended amount of terror, that's it. He paid to see my work. [Poirier is just] a corpse, it's a corpse.
"I don't give a f--- about him, to be honest. That's how I am. He's a corpse, a blank face who is going to get his ass whooped and taken out on a stretcher."
McGregor now admits the idea of crossing back over into a blockbuster boxing match, like he did in a 10th-round TKO defeat to Floyd Mayweather in 2017, is no longer on his mind. He's focused not only on winning the rivalry with Poirier, but regaining the 155-pound title he won in 2016 but never defended. It would be a fight against new champion Charles Oliveira that McGregor said he hopes to do in December inside the new Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, home of the NFL's Raiders.
"I'm just focused on mixed martial arts, first of all," McGregor said. "The last fight was an 85 percent camp for boxing against Manny Pacquiao, that's how the fight came about. [The Poirier rematch originally] would be a charity event and not even under the UFC banner. It was just because he was a southpaw and I felt a little bit of pity for him to help him out. It went the way it went and I got a setback in there but setbacks are a beautiful thing. Defeats are the secret of success and it put me exactly where I need to be.
"The only difference between the [second] Nate Diaz fight [in 2016] and this fight is that I'm throwing kill shots now. Every shot I have thrown in this camp is a kill shot. That's it, I'm going to kill this man."