Conor McGregor looks back on 2019 as "a learning year" and admits that his children played a significant role in saving his fighting career.
McGregor is days away from making his long-awaited UFC comeback and he knew that he would be facing tougher questions than usual when fulfilling his media obligations ahead of UFC 246 on Saturday night.
In a far-ranging and lengthy interview with ESPN's Ariel Helwani, McGregor insisted that he never doubted his ability to return to the Octagon despite the many controversies in which he has been involved in recent years.
The former UFC featherweight and lightweight champion said: "I let people down and that’s it. You must take control of things and not shy away from things. I’ve never done that in my career and I never will do it.
My full sit-down interview with @TheNotoriousMMA is up now. Dare I say, a side we haven’t seen of him before. I found his answers, candor & demeanor fascinating throughout. For example, this clip below about drinking leading up to the Khabib fight.
Full: https://t.co/6BQKmgk3cc pic.twitter.com/KV1bOH5uaW
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) January 13, 2020
"It is what it is, it’s part of the life. Sometimes it got a bit on top of me and then I reacted, but no more. I had to go to that point. Look at where it led me, reacting to disrespect and these type of things. I’ve learned some valuable lessons in this that I’m very thankful for, and I will use them going forward."
McGregor will share the Octagon with Donald Cerrone in the main event of UFC 246 this weekend and he believes he is in the shape of his life as he looks to position himself for a rematch with 155lbs king and perennial rival, Khabib Nurmagomedov.
McGregor's last trip to the Octagon ended with him submitting to a Nurmagomedov rear naked choke but the Irishman insists that he made mistakes in his preparation for 'The Eagle', including drinking in the week leading up to the bout.
"I was drinking all bleeding fight week the last time. I was on the Conan O'Brien show [drinking]," he said.
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) January 13, 2020
After proudly stating that he hasn't had a drink in many months, McGregor continued:"I don't know. I just had this venom in me or something. I don't know why. I had people holed up in a hotel, from that part of the world, and I would ring and arrange a fight. So they come from the hotel down to the gym and have a full-blown fight; no head guard. I'd win. You know, we'd have a war, and I'd win, and I'd knock the guy out. And then I'd go off and celebrate, and then I'd come back in three days."
UFC 246 takes place at Las Vegas' T-Mobile Arena on Saturday night and will be headlined by a welterweight contest between McGregor and Cerrone.
Now that he believes his focus is where it should be, McGregor confirmed that the support of his family and two young kids is what helped him back to his current state.
He said: "That's what I'm saying. 100 per cent right. At the time that I needed it the most."