On July 6th, ESPN the Magazine releases its eighth edition of the “Body Issue” for online consumption (July 8th for those of you who still enjoy picking up a hard copy). A total of 19 athletes will be represented in the issue – known for presenting strong types in vulnerable ways – and here’s a sneak peek at MMA star Conor McGregor’s body-baring cover photo. Never shy, this was McGregor’s first interview following his April 19th tweet suggesting that he was retiring early, and he explained some of his mental tactics.
“Verbal warfare is another form of warfare, so I look to engage in that 100%,” he explains. “You beat him verbally. You beat him mentally, and then finally you beat him physically, that’s the three ways to beat a man.”
He went on to explain that “my unpredictability is what separates me,” adding, “If you move in so many ways, your opponent is not focused on what he’s doing. He’s focusing in on what you’re doing and it freezes him. When they freeze and you hit, they shatter like glass.”
McGregor, who has enjoyed stoking the rumors that he would take on Floyd Mayweather for an epic fight, also compared himself to the boxing legend. “If I only had to focus on boxing, hell, I’d be neck and neck with Floyd right now. I’m in the game of spinning plates. I’m spinning a boxing plate. I’m spinning a Tae Kwon Do plate. I’m spinning a Jujitsu plate. I’m spinning a freestyle wrestling plate. I’m spinning a karate plate. If I was to put all them down and have one boxing plate spinning, it would be like a load off my shoulders.”
After being choked out by Nate Diaz in UFC 196, UFC President Dana White pulled McGregor from UFC 200 – which takes place July 9th with Jon Jones versus Daniel Cormier – because McGregor would not participate in mandatory promotional events. But it seems he’s ready to get back in the Octagon. “I entered that last fight [against Diaz] full. I was full in every sense. My plate was full, my belly was full. That’s not why we fight. We originally fight for food, to eat. We fight hungry. So I’m happy with the lessons learned. I feel like my gut has been emptied again. Like I am hungry again.”
Some of the other athletes included in the magazine: NBA Champ Dwyane Wade, USWNT star Christen Press, Houston Texans nose tackle Vince Wilfork, Super Bowl MVP Von Miller,Chicago Cubs Cy Young Award-winning pitcher Jake Arrieta and reigning WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne. Team USA’s Chris Mosier will also make history by becoming the first transgender athlete to appear in the issue.
Conor McGregor made history by becoming the first MMA fighter to be included in Forbes’ list of the highest-paid athletes.