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.
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.
Conor McGregor has ‘Every intention of fighting in 2018’
Despite being inactive since his historic boxing bout with Floyd Mayweather Jr. in August, Conor McGregor is never far from the headlines. Recently his out of cage antics have got people questioning if he’ll ever be back.
Thankfully the UFC lightweight champion appears to have cleared up any rumors about his fighting career.
Speaking to his sponsor Betsafe, the “Notorious” Conor McGregor said “My focus is getting back into the right ring or octagon. 2017 was historic. I have transcended both the sport of MMA and boxing. At this stage of my career, as it has been for the majority of my UFC career, potential opponents must lobby for fights with me. We could see Conor McGregor anywhere. I run the fight game, the fashion game, the whiskey game or whatever the next business endeavor might be”.
McGregor added, “I have every intention of fighting in 2018 if my compensation and business development endeavors accurately reflect my influence on combat sports.”
This comes just two weeks after UFC President Dana White told reporters “Conor might never fight again. The guy’s got $100 (expletive) million. I’ve got guys that made less than that and were lawyers and went to school their whole life and quit working.”
White went on to say “Try to get up and get punched in the face every day when you’ve got $100 million in the bank. Money changes everything with a lot of people.”
White also told reporters that the “Notorious one”, “can’t be paid enough money” and that he is “worth every penny and more.” McGregor’s recent statement suggests he knows that and won’t be back till his demands are met.
The UFC lightweight division has been stalled in the absence of the champion McGregor and now the interim champion Tony Ferguson has undergone surgery. The UFC has been known the remove belts from fighters who have been delayed for extended amounts of time, this would be highly unlikely with the popularity of McGregor.
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