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Conor McGregor, Nate Diaz verbally clash at expletive-filled UFC 196 press event

UFC featherweight champion Conor McGregor (L) and

UFC featherweight champion Conor McGregor (L) and lightweight contender Nate Diaz (R) are held apart by Dave Sholler (C), UFC vice president of public relations, after a news conference at UFC Gym February 24, 2016, in Torrance, California. Credit: Getty Images / Kevork Djansezian

Conor McGregor’s UFC press events are starting to become a bit routine, but not the least bit disappointing.

First, a minimum 20-minute delay before he takes the stage. Then, a few boastful proclamations regarding his place in the fight game. And finally, insults and verbal bombshells laid upon his opponent . . . and whomever he chooses, regardless of presence.

Wednesday’s UFC 196 media event in Los Angeles stuck to the McGregor script, and the bonus of Nate Diaz on the other side made this presser a memorable one.

“I am the one who created this,” said McGregor after his arrival 35 minutes behind schedule.

McGregor will face Diaz on March 5 in a welterweight bout after Rafael dos Anjos pulled out of their scheduled lightweight title fight with a broken foot.

McGregor, the reigning featherweight champion, wasn’t surprised dos Anjos pulled out. He is the fourth opponent to withdraw in McGregor’s eight-fight UFC career. McGregor even took a shot at the severity of dos Anjos’ injury.

“They always pull, they always run, they always make it out like they want it but really they don’t want it,” McGregor said. “I was expecting it. I looked at the picture dos Anjos put up and it’s a bruise. I heard ice works wonders.”

As one of the UFC’s highest draws, McGregor had plenty of suitors once dos Anjos withdrew, but the featherweight champion threw barbs at the potential opponents that chose not to take the bout.

“Nate, for me, was the leading option,” McGregor said. “There were many, many options, but in reality, many people pretended like they wanted to fight until the fight actually presented itself. Frankie [Edgar] never shut up, but then when he was given a phone call and a date, then he hasn’t been seen or heard since. Apparently Jose [Aldo] was in camp in case dos Anjos pulled out and then all of a sudden dos Anjos pulls out with his bruised foot and then Jose is not fit.”

McGregor also claimed Diaz tried to get out of the fight because of disagreements on money and weight, a claim Diaz was not having any of.

“I came to fight, they asked me to fight, I said yes from the beginning,” Diaz said. “Whatever problems they had, I don’t know but I came ready to fight, any weight class, doesn’t matter. There was no hesitation on my part, I came ready to rock the whole time, I said it months ago.”

Both men claimed “not to give a [expletive]” about the weight, as well as not giving a [expletive] about whether title belts are on the line. But even without a belt on the line, the pair have plenty to argue about.

Diaz made a claim that McGregor, as well as “everyone in the UFC” is using steroids, to which McGregor responded with names of Diaz’s teammates who’ve failed drug tests. McGregor took shots at Diaz’s persona by calling him a “credit to the community,” saying Diaz “makes gun signs with the right hand and animal balloons with the left hand.”

The Irishman did give the California native some credit for taking the fight on short notice when others wouldn’t, but as he is wont to do, McGregor predicted a first-round finish in their bout.

“I feel his repetitive foot patterns and his pull motions are too readable, too predictable. He will be too slow in there, the speed will stifle him,” McGregor said. “His soft body and lack of preparation, he will not be able to handle the ferocity.”

Diaz wouldn’t offer a prediction of his own but does have a strategy ready.

“I’m just going to kill or be killed,” Diaz said. “That’s what I’m coming with.”

New York Sports