Hacked messages and ‘green-panty night’… inside McGregor’s rivalry with Usman
MMA 

The gentleman of the welterweight division sat unknowingly at cageside as word began to spread around the stands.

A month previously in the same T-Mobile Arena, Kamaru Usman had successfully defended his 170lb title with a fifth-round stoppage of motormouth Colby Covington.

He was back on the Las Vegas strip to watch Conor McGregor's return against Donald Cerrone following a 15-month absence which at one stage looked set to be permanent.

But Usman's calm demeanour was at odds with the messages frothing furiously from his social media account.

"Let's be real, my man [ Conor McGregor ] is a f****** Irish punk who won't be winning today," raged the first.

If eyebrows were raised at this departure from Usman's normal 'trash talk', subsequent tweets made it clear he had been hacked.

"Conor McGregor is a Irish pussy, n**** I'll f*** your wife while slapping the f*** outta you punk," read the second.

And the third was equally graphic: "I'll be raw dogging the f*** outta [McGregor's] wife on gang n****."

Meanwhile, as Usman's hacker turned their attention to the champion's bank account (screenshots were posted allegedly showing a balance of $500,000) and Floyd Mayweather, UFC president Dana White was taking action.

Worried that his superstar would see the tweets and confront Usman, White grabbed his phone.

"I phoned Conor and said don't do anything, don't react," he later recalled. "Usman and [manager] Ali [Abdelaziz] were sitting right in front of where Conor came out.

"The first thing I did was to tell Conor; he didn't believe he was hacked. They put his bank account and his pin out there, that's crazy s***."

Usman later confirmed what everyone knew, that he didn't post the tweets – but a seed was sown in McGregor's mind.

Having won the featherweight and lightweight titles – and having tested the welterweight waters against first Nate Diaz and then Cerrone – McGregor smelled blood.

"I like this weight division," he said. "I feel really good, it's good going up and down.

"Anyone of these little melty fools can get it. All of them, every single one of them; I'm back and I'm ready."

But any prospect of McGregor attempting to become a triple champion was quashed by White who had no plan to feed his pay-per-view star to his dominant welterweight ruler.

Yet despite after another lay-off, this time pandemic-enforced, and a stoppage defeat by Dustin Poirier, McGregor's rivalry with Usman has reignited.

And this time there is no third party involved.

McGregor clearly harbours dreams of becoming a three-weight world champion, even if he will do well to beat Poirier this summer, never mind win back the lightweight belt.

But Usman, who will next defend his title in another rematch, this time against Covington, appears keen to stoke the flames.

Earlier this month, he claimed it's "green panty night" when you face him which was clearly a reference to the same quip McGregor made in 2016 ahead of his ultimately doomed fight with Rafael dos Anjos, when he used "red panty night".

McGregor hit back at Usman, saying: ""Am I tripping or is this jackass always at this? Everything I say."

And after Usman had knocked Masvidal out cold in Florida this past weekend, McGregor made another copyright allegation.

"Usman even copying my shots now. Am I to fight this guy at some stage?" he tweeted.

"I think so. Can’t be copying my words and my shots and not get a smack for it. I like 170. It’s mine soon."

It was left to Usman to provide the best riposte, however, when he quipped: "Except when I touch you at 170, they go out. They don’t even go out at 155 anymore for you. I finish people. You get finished."

McGregor would be best advised to focus on his trilogy bout with Poirier in which defeat would surely hasten the end of his career.

Should he beat his rival and then win back the belt, however, it would take a brave man to bet against him challenging Usman in 2022.

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