One of the reasons I got into this game was because I wanted to learn how to get myself comfortable in uncomfortable situations. I grew up in a tough area of Dublin, and fighting was just part of your life. Boys fight, and I won some, but I lost a lot too, and I didn’t like that, I didn’t like that feeling of not knowing whether I was in danger, in trouble.
I like looking good. But it’s also about the feeling, right?
I used to imagine it. I used to pretend that my Peugeot driving to the gym in the rain in Dublin was a Ferrari on the Vegas strip. And now that I have that? I can’t even describe that feeling. That’s why I like the best – the best cars, the best food, the best watches.
I don’t give a f***. We’re not fighting. I don’t care what anyone thinks about me. All the stuff I have to do outside the fighting, the promotion, this, I don’t give a f***. But when I am facing up for a fight, I know what they’re thinking. I can read their minds. When I am going face to face with an opponent, nose to nose, I can smell the fear, and I’m feeling no fear at all.
I eat, sleep and breathe training.
Training to me isn’t about a set time at the gym – I move at all times of the day and night.
Fourteen weeks before the Mendes fight I tore 80 per cent of my ACL [anterior cruciate ligament]. That is the main ligament for stability. Every day in that training camp when I was working my way back, I was saying “real champions fight through any adversity”. That is why I am a real champion and he is not. Look at my eye [he had seven stitches put in an old wound after an injury in training the night before we met]. Fighters fight on. Aldo got scared, he went running and I worry he will run again.
It’s gone, boxing’s gone. What is there in boxing? Who is there to talk about, who is there that people go, “Yeah I want to fight him?”, and fans go “I wanna see that fight”? There’s Floyd Mayweather, and he is 38, 39, he’s maybe got one fight left. What else is there? He’ll have a last fight or two and a couple of guys will get a few million dollars, but way less than I’m gonna be getting in future. This sport is getting bigger all the time, and I am making it bigger.
People do what they think works for them, but the sport is about instinct, movement, balance, power… it’s too animalistic to get rigid about your training.
It is the most powerful submission in the sport. It is a beautiful thing. You’re holding them into you, their back is on you, and you are basically choking them gradually like a boa constrictor and once you’ve got them, the pressure goes on and they have to submit or they are going to stop breathing. It happened to me early in my career, and I panicked, and gave in, I tapped out too early. I learned a lot from that. I learned from it, learned how to do the move better, learned how to avoid it being done to me.
Think street, train sport.
I don’t watch the news, I don’t care about politics, I don’t care about other sports.
To do anything to a high level it has to be total obsession. Ask José Mourinho, he wouldn’t know a thing about me, my sport – he knows football, and to get to high levels you have to be insane, nothing else means anything. I respect all forms of movement and lifestyles, but I am in a bubble. I wake up, it is in my head; I go to sleep, it’s in my head, 24/7.
I eat, sleep and breathe training.
I do yoga. People think it is easy, just touching your toes. It is hard. But I tend to go with my own flow. It’s back to the movement thing. I feel it when I need to train, and I do what I feel I need to do. And when I am in the run-up to a fight, I am really at it the whole time, might be getting my weight down to meet the limit for the division. Soon I am moving up and I am going to be champion in the next one too.
Listen, I am in the fighting game, I don’t care about anything else.
I won’t ever shy away from a fight and if it makes sense down the road, I’ll do it. But it will be on my terms.
I work hard and fight easy.
Real champions fight through adversity.
I don’t feel negative emotions. I feel calm, composed and ready. And as it goes on I get better at it. By the time the fight is on, I don’t feel any emotions at all.