The Connor McGregor versus Nate Diaz rematch has been on our minds ever since the first time they fought. Their rivalry has continued to build steam ever since their bout at UFC 196. On that night, last-minute replacement Nate Diaz came to rumble with an always confident Connor McGregor. They would fight for the middleweight title on a night that wound up to be unpredictable.
Will the McGregor versus Diaz rematch live up to the hype? History suggests that it can. Recent events tell us that the main event for UFC 202 will be worth the buzz, and then some.
Connor McGregor, who always stays in excellent shape, moved up two weight classes for the bout. He attempted to trade punches with Nate Diaz, but the champion appeared gassed by the end of the first round from trying to knock out a naturally bigger opponent. For those who follow the UFC, the rest of the story is well known.
Connor McGregor was a victim of a rear-naked choke in the second round. McGregor’s loss took a lot of steam out of him.
The defeat is something that Diaz believes McGregor still lives with (courtesy of The Score) as they head into UFC 202.
“He remembers what happened in the last fight. I think it’s a little silly, man, he’s got pictures of me up in his garage and he’s punching me in the face. What the f—? Who does that? Trying to make yourself believe something, just trying to hype himself up, but when he goes to sleep at night, he remembers what happened the last time.”
It is the middle of August and here we go again. The Connor McGregor versus Nate Diaz rematch has become the most-anticipated fights of the year. Only this time, UFC fans have had the pleasure of witnessing an actual build-up to the showdown.
The original plan was for McGregor and Diaz to square off at UFC 200. Everything was agreed upon for both of them to meet for a historic night. Unfortunately, the fight did not materialize after McGregor failed to meet some of the mandatory promotional obligations set by UFC President Dana White.
Things would eventually take a turn for the ridiculous after Connor McGregor briefly announced his retirement from the UFC.
The main event for the UFC 200 card was later changed to another rematch — Daniel Cormier versus Jon Jones. It was a fight that never took place. McGregor would later make good on his promotional appearances in order for his rematch with Nate Diaz to happen at UFC 202.
Now that UFC fans have the fight they want to see, the hype around it is surreal.
It helps Dana White and company that both Connor McGregor and Nate Diaz are great talkers and initiators. Gift of gab have become commonplace while hyping up the McGregor versus Diaz rematch.
Breaking: Daniel Cormier vs. Jon Jones Announced as UFC 200 Main Event in Wake of Connor McGregor 'Retirement' Saga pic.twitter.com/DwELsXaEZ8— AC Adams (@ACAdams80) April 27, 2016
Their barbs towards each other led to a fracas (courtesy of Fox Sports) taking place at the UFC 202 weigh-ins. Things got hectic enough that it took police officers to break them up. Most of the time, when there is a weigh-in for a huge fight, fans get treated to a stare-down and some friendly, or unfriendly, banter. This is all with Dana White standing in the center of the action.
Is the vitriol that McGregor and Diaz have for each other just for the cameras to see? Not quite.
Connor McGregor and Nate Diaz do not appear to like each other. Whether it is out of the spirit of competition or genuine disdain, both men want to take out their frustrations on each other. Their exchanges took place during the minutes leading up to UFC 196. Then they would continue after Diaz was victorious. Verbal exchanges and subtle messages on social media would follow, even before the McGregor versus Diaz II was announced. This is why their rematch at UFC 202 will live up to the hype.
Connor McGregor versus Nate Diaz is the ultimate grudge match. It pits two men who has a dislike for each other, as other fights do.
That hatred is expected to spill into the UFC Octagon the moment both McGregor and Diaz receive their introductions. Hatred will give in to other factors. Overall pride and legacy will be on the line, which is greater than any of the animosity built over from the time that they first fought. McGregor will look to avenge defeat. Diaz will look to prove his legitimacy. Their words against each other will only have been enough to take us into UFC 202. In a perfect world, the Connor McGregor versus Nate Diaz rematch will become a candidate for the “Fight of the Year.” That is because both men promise us this with their talk.
[Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images]