With less than two weeks left, MMA fans were ready to see which champion would reign supreme as Conor McGregor was set to fight Rafael dos Anjos at UFC 196 on March 5, 2016. It would be an important night for UFC because it would feature its first champion-versus-champion fight with one championship on the line. It would also be an important night for McGregor because he had the opportunity to become the very first double champion in UFC history.
Unfortunately for Conor McGregor, the UFC, and fans who were clamoring to see this fight, the champion-versus-champion fight will have to come at a later time. On Tuesday, February 23, 2016, Rafael dos Anjos — the UFC lightweight champion who put his belt on the line against McGregor — had to drop out of the fight due to a foot injury.
The announcement caused a media storm in the MMA world as many wondered who would be able to replace dos Anjos. Later that day, everyone found out it would be Nate Diaz. Despite what fans may feel for Diaz, it is good UFC President Dana White was able to find someone for Conor McGregor, but could he have found someone better?
Asking such a question is more than valid given the fact there are plenty of contenders who want a piece of Conor McGregor. To be fair, Dana White probably thought he had a decent pool of fighters to pick from. However as he went down the list, White realized his options were limited. Being the former UFC featherweight champion, José Aldo was offered the rematch first, but “Scarface” said he was “too out of shape” and “wouldn’t be able to fight next week.”
The next MMA fighter in mind was Frankie Edgar. The number two featherweight fighter in UFC is currently on a five-fight win streak with his latest victory being against Chad Mendes. Unfortunately, Edgar had to turn down the fight, as reported by Fox Sports. By happenstance, Edgar’s reason was injury.
Other fighters who were also part of the scramble to take Rafael dos Anjos’ place at UFC 196, either it be fact or rumor, included Donald Cerrone, Anthony Pettis, and Khabib Nurmagomedov, as reported by Yahoo! Sports. For one reason or the other, Dana White couldn’t book them in. And that answers if White could have found someone better than Nate Diaz to fight Conor McGregor. Though Diaz has only won two of his last five fights, he is still ranked in the top ten, ranking number five, and is considered a “fan favorite” to fight McGregor, according to what White says.Diaz is also considered on par with McGregor in dishing out trash talk. He, however, is far more vulgar, spewing expletives liberally.
The official UFC website did provide more details about the upcoming Conor McGregor versus Nate Diaz fight after the announcement. It will be a non-title match in the welterweight division. This means McGregor has to gain one more pound from his current 155 pound weight (the upper limit for lightweight). McGregor however can go up to 15 more pounds since the welterweight division’s upper limit is 170 pounds.
UFC 196: McGregor vs. Diaz will take place on Saturday, March 5, 2016 in the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. It is often discussed among MMA fans that the real main event in their eyes will now be UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion Holly Holm’s first title defense against Miesha Tate who is currently on a four-fight winning streak.
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