LAS VEGAS — On March 5, 2016, the world of mixed martial arts was flipped upside down when Nate Diaz filled in for an injured Rafael dos Anjos and upset UFC featherweight champion Conor McGregor by rear naked choke in the welterweight division.
It was the first UFC defeat of “The Notorious One,” and one which ended his reign of invincibility. Furthermore, a streak of seven consecutive victories and five “Performance of the Night” bonuses was snapped before the 28-year old’s very eyes.
For Stockton, California’s Nate Diaz, UFC 196 proved to be life-changing. Aside from asserting himself as one of the brightest stars in the sport, his latest victory was the biggest win of his career, which ultimately produced the largest payday of his life.
This evening, 168 days and 16 UFC main events later, the two larger than life personalities and highly skilled fighters stepped back into the octagon for an immediate rematch and a chance for McGregor to enjoy redemption.
Ireland, you may NOW rest easy.
In a “Fight of the Year” candidate, Conor McGregor edged Nate Diaz via a 48-47, 47-47, 48-47 majority decision win.
“Surprise, surprise, motherf***ker! The king is back!” beckoned McGregor.
As expected, the two warriors did not exchange a touch of gloves at the start. However, once the action began, the gloves commenced to crack and batter flesh. McGregor executed a kick oriented game plan early, which chewed the lead leg of Stockton’s own. The Notorious One continued to display his dominance in the 1st and actually knocked down Diaz with a straight left. As the round grew older, the featherweight champion’s confidence soared to new heights while more effectively mixing stand-up strikes in with his kicks. Although Diaz added shots of his own, McGregor finished strong and clipped his opponent before the first horn.
“You’re damn right it was. He took them better than I expected,” stated the Irishman of whether lead leg kick were a part of his game plan. “I proved the class difference. I just had to level to him. That toughness and durability that he has, crept back in the later rounds. But I am still happy to come away with the win. It was a hell of a fight. He is a hell of a competitor. He brought out the best in me.”
In the 2nd, it was Diaz who initiated an exchange right out of the gates. Yet, McGregor was the one who landed left handed bombs to the natural lightweight’s chin, causing two knockdowns in a matter of moments. Nonetheless, Nate Diaz is not easily finished and despite eating hard strikes that weaved through holes, he picked up the pressure and worked a clinch. Moreover, in close quarters, he came alive and destroyed McGregor while the latter was against the cage. But, this time it was McGregor who was saved by the horn.
The Notorious One, using a suggestion from coach John Kavanagh, persisted to kick the lead leg of his opponent. The previous led to the two finally opening and loading up. Though, the toe-to-toe exchanges were surprisingly kept to a minimum by McGregor. More specifically, the champion was actually fleeing and running away. Pointing in an entertaining taunt was none other than Diaz as he understood what the uncharacteristic actions of his adversary meant: McGregor was gassed. Diaz, continuing to clinch with the Irishman, proceeded to put all his weight on McGregor. Viewed by all was the deep breaths coming from the champion prior to a break. Out of the break, a left straight and right hook landed flush by McGregor. In an attempt to take the fight to the ground, the American tried at all costs to trip and land a double leg takedown. Unfortunately for him, the takedown defense of McGregor was outstanding. In the final minute, Diaz, as in the 2nd, inflicted a barrage of strikes and blows to his opponent. Punch after punch and elbow after elbow pounded the face of McGregor. Yet, the champion stood tall and we were heading to the championship rounds.
“I just stayed calm with it. I didn’t exchange back with him,” McGregor said of being gassed and gaining a second wind. “Like my coach says, ‘We win or we learn.’ I learned from the last contest.“
McGregor needed to shift momentum for any chance of victory. In the 4th, he did exactly that. Peppering the bloody face of Diaz, the Irishman reopened cuts and created new ones. Following another failed Diaz takedown attempt, both traded stingy elbows in a clinch before McGregor was temporarily staggered by a left hook. Survive and advance was now the mission for the champion and unlike instances before, McGregor escaped a dangerous clinch and landed over the top left hand punches. A “Stockton slap” and a slip by Diaz ended the segment.
An instant exchange welcomed the final round. McGregor rediscovered his elusive movement; yet, was still caught by a jab. Unaffected, he stuffed multiple takedown attempts and broke from clinches. After another McGregor run from trouble, Diaz comically flipped off his opponent and started another damage inflicting clinch. Finally, the American landed a takedown and a brutal ground and pound. However, it transpired a little too late, for the final horn sounded. Diaz extended a hand and helped McGregor off the mat after one of the best bouts in UFC history.
Result: Conor McGregor defeats Nate Diaz via Majority Decision (48-47, 47-47, 48-47)
He Said It (Part I)
“I thought I won that fight. They can’t have a motherf***ker like me win. I am too real for this sport,” started Diaz of what he thought of the decision. “They have to get me out when they can. But it is all good though. I came into this fight worse off than last time. I didn’t go to training. I had injuries. F**k that! He should have finished me off.“
He Said It (Part II)
“All I know is it is 1-1. Let’s regroup and do it again! This time we will do it at 155 pounds. I came back to 170, faced the bigger man! I overcame my adversity!” yelled McGregor in conclusion.
He Said It (Part III)
“Good job today Conor. But we are going for 3. For real,” finished the lightweight.
It was revealed after Conor McGregor left the octagon that he broke a foot during the bout. Currently, the status of the featherweight champion is unknown. UFC President Dana White has said that McGregor will either defend his belt versus current interim champion Jose Aldo next or vacate his title.
Who will Conor McGregor fight next in the UFC?
Conor McGregor has announced via Instagram that he intends to return to fighting and he even revealed that he had offered to replace the injured Max Holloway in the main event of UFC 222.
He did say however that the UFC rejected the opportunity to have him headline against Frankie Edgar as he was told “there wasn’t enough time to generate the money that the UFC would need”.
With his return seemingly imminent and an already proposed fight with Frankie Edgar falling through here’s a look at the men who could be standing across the cage from the “Notorious One” upon his return to the octagon.
Let’s start with the man McGregor claims he was ready to fight next month, Frankie Edgar.
It’s a fight that has been rumoured and talked about for years now, but has always failed to become a reality and right now I believe each mans future lies elsewhere.
Although I believe Edgar would choose a fight with McGregor over a title fight with Holloway, his next bout should finally be for the real featherweight title, providing he beats Ortega at UFC 222. McGregor on the other hand, is unlikely to want the Edgar fight now given the much more lucrative options at his disposal.
If you’re a fan still clinging to hope that you will one day see this match up, I hate to break it to you but the only place you’ll be seeing this match up anytime soon is on UFC 3.
The winner of Ferguson vs Khabib
If UFC 223 goes as planned then we will see a new UFC Lightweight champion. It means Conor McGregor will be without a belt for the first time since December 2015 and it would be no surprise to see him want his belt back instantly.
As a competitor the winner of this fight represents the best the division has to offer. As a businessman the winner of this fight represents the best the division has to offer.
It is the fight that makes sense, but as we know, sense doesn’t always prevail in the UFC. But, the winner of this bout being the next to face McGregor, is a real possibility.
Conor McGregor is no longer the man at featherweight, Max Holloway is.
Does that hurt McGregor’s ego? Maybe. There has been a lot more activity on McGregor’s social media channels about his fight with Holloway. Most notably the “I miss those sunglasses” post. Which certainly has a hint of jealousy to it. Perhaps McGrgeor wants to remind fans of what he can do at featherweight?
Although I think McGregor’s days at featherweight are pretty much over, I don’t think it’s beyond the realms of possibility that we see this fight at lightweight. But I don’t believe this fight is next for either man.
Nate Diaz and Conor McGregor have both announced their comebacks in quick succession of each other. Could it mean they’re coming back for a fight this summer? Who knows.
But one things for sure, the trilogy fight will happen. It has the potential to be even bigger than the first two fights and will surely bring in a boat load of cash. Enough to motivate the two rivals to meet in the octagon again.
The fight seems inevitable and it has every chance of being the next fight for McGregor.
Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Mayweather Jr. in the octagon has been teased since before his boxing match with Conor McGregor and the ongoing speculation seems never ending.
But it’s wishful thinking to believe that Mayweather Jr. will repay the favour to McGrgeor by competing in his sport.
This sport has taught us to never say never and many of us would have never envisioned McGregor competing in boxing, but here we are. But this is just a whole new level of unlikely.
Dana White gives an update on the lightweight title picture
When it comes to the lightweight division there is always a lot of talk with very little clarification. But now it seems Dana White has had enough of waiting for champion Conor McGregor and plans to move on in his absence.
“The Notorious” Conor McGregor won the UFC lightweight title back in November 2016 at UFC 205 where he became the first fighter to hold two belts simultaneously, however, he has not competed in MMA since.
Speaking on Sunday night’s after UFC Fight Night St. Louis UFC President Dana White said “Conor has said he is thinking about coming back in September if he comes back in September that’s almost two years, that can’t happen. It’s not fair to everybody else. Love Conor, respect Conor, love everything he’s done for this company, everybody knows that I say it all the time. The belt would have to move on.”
White also spoke about the two men that would fight for the lightweight belt saying “You do Khabib versus Tony, we’re working on that fight now and if and when Conor comes back he would get the first crack at the title.”
Then when presenter Karyn Bryant pushed for clarification and asked: “So you’re saying that Conor could possibly be stripped of his title?” Dana responded without hesitation “absolutely”.
"Conor has said he's thinking about coming back in September. If he comes back in September, that's almost two years…that can't happen." — @danawhite
— FOX Sports: UFC (@UFCONFOX) January 15, 2018
The news will excite UFC fans across the globe who have been clamoring for the Ferguson vs Khabib matchup which they have been denied on three separate occasions. No date was confirmed for the potential matchup but rumors have been circulating that the UFC is targeting UFC 223 in April.
Conor McGregor reacts to Khabib Nurmagomedov’s win at UFC 219
On Saturday night the world watched as Khabib Nurmagomedov dismantled the striking expert Edson Barboza at UFC 219. The reactions were filled with praise for the undefeated Russian fighter. Media members and fans alike were calling Nurmagomedov one of the best lightweights in the world, but there is one man the world was waiting to hear from, UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor. McGregor was silent following the fight between Nurmagomedov and Barboza, that is until Monday morning when he took to Twitter to state his opinion about the Number one contender.
That Dagestani was dog shit the other night you's are all nuts. Game full of sloppy bums asking to be slept. Pay me my worth and Kings back.
— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) January 1, 2018
Truly truly truly get on your fucking knees and beg me. Otherwise I don't give a bollox.
My whiskey is out this year and thats Diddy bread.
— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) January 1, 2018
“Truly truly truly get on your fucking knees and beg me,” McGregor wrote on Twitter. “Otherwise, I don’t give a bollox. My whiskey is out this year and that’s Diddy bread.” The whiskey that McGregor is referring to is his very own grand that he announced would be coming out following his loss to Floyd Mayweather this past August.
Rumors about McGregor’s return have ranged from him retiring from fighting to live a life of wealth with his family, to expect his return to the UFC this summer. No one really knows if McGregor will ever defend his UFC lightweight belt, but if he is to do so UFC President Dana White has said that it will be against interim champion Tony Ferguson.
Ferguson was also seeking a fight with Nurmagomedov prior to winning the interim belt against Kevin Lee. It is entirely possible that we will see these two battle for the interim title in the octagon before we see the return of Conor McGregor. Of course, these days there are no guarantees in regards to title contention, McGregor and his camp have publically stated that they would like to face Nurmagomedov in his home country of Russia.
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