Conor McGregor will be facing Nate Diaz on March 5 in UFC 196 in the main event after Rafael dos Anjos was forced to withdraw due to a broken foot. McGregor, who is the current UFC Featherweight Champion, was hoping to take on dos Anjos for the UFC Lightweight title with the hope that Conor would be the first UFC fighter to hold a title in two different weight divisions at the same time.
According to ESPN, although McGregor will no longer be after a title shot, Conor will be facing Nate Diaz in the welterweight division. The bout should be full of fireworks, considering the volatile verbal attacks between Diaz and McGregor. While the UFC had many fighters to consider as a replacement for dos Anjos, ultimately, UFC President Dana White felt the matchup between McGregor and Diaz would be the most entertaining.
This is the second time that Conor McGregor has had a title bout opportunity ripped from his clutches just days away from the event. McGregor was scheduled to fight Jose Aldo in July of 2015, but Aldo pulled out after suffering a rib injury. Conor went on to fight Chad Mendes and become the interim featherweight champion until his bout with Aldo was rescheduled for December. McGregor definitively dominated Jose Aldo, knocking him out in a mere thirteen seconds. Ever the outspoken Irishman, McGregor stated he would take on anyone who wanted to fight him, and the list was long.
According to USA Today Sports, the week following the McGregor versus Aldo fight, Diaz gave a profanity-laced shout out to Conor. Though Diaz isn't considered to be a contender for the belt in his weight class, he is well known for his ability to talk smack and clearly showed his disdain for Conor McGregor in the post-fight interview with Joe Rogan stating, "Conor McGregor, you're taking everything I work for, [expletive]. I'm gonna fight your [expletive] ass. You know what the real fight — the real money fight — is: Me."
While both McGregor and Nate have proven their skill, neither appear to be short on ego either.
I'm happy to announce that I have inducted myself into the UFC hall of fame.Details of event to follow.As fans hopped onto Twitter today after the announcement of dos Anjos' withdrawal, begging Nate Diaz and UFC President Dana White for the McGregor match up, Nate had a response of his own.
— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) February 1, 2016
He's going to have to get on his knees and beg...This was undoubtedly Diaz's way of mocking McGregor's Twitter post following his victory in December in which Conor touted, "Line them up on their knees with their hands out. I want them to beg me."
— Nathan Diaz (@NateDiaz209) February 23, 2016
Dana White may have been the one to do the begging, however. According to White's interview with Yahoo Sports, the UFC was set to match up Conor McGregor with either Donald Cerrone, Anthony Pettis, or Nate Diaz. Though all three were agreeable to fight McGregor, White says his decision was based on the overwhelming fan requests for McGregor to face Diaz. Diaz was rewarded with two extra fights on his contract, and Conor McGregor was rewarded with the opportunity to settle a grudge while jumping up two weight classes.
UFC fans are also undoubtedly looking forward to the co-main event of UFC 196. Besides McGregor versus Diaz, fans will witness the return of Holly Holm to the octagon after her dominant victory over Ronda Rousey in November. Though McGregor's no longer fighting for a title, this will be Holly Holm's first opportunity to defend hers against veteran fighter Meisha Tate. The winner will likely face Ronda Rousey in the Fall. And who knows? Maybe Conor McGregor will get his chance for a rescheduled bout with Rafael dos Anjos at the same time.
[Conor McGregor cover image via Steve Marcus/Getty Images.]