McGregor vs. Diaz: Conor McGregor has become one of the top individual attractions in sports by talking a lot of trash and then backing it up in the Octagon. He faces a new challenge on Saturday night, as he moves up two divisions for a welterweight clash with Nate Diaz at UFC 196.
It’s an intriguing battle in large part because Diaz returned from a yearlong absence to score a hard-fought victory over Michael Johnson in December. He’s lacked consistency in recent years, but that fight showed he may be trending back toward top form. The featherweight champion will test that progress.
Let’s check out all of the important information for Saturday’s marquee encounter. That’s followed by a look at the weigh-in results and a preview of the hyped matchup.
UFC 196 Details
Where: MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas
When: Saturday, March 5 at 10 p.m. ET
Live Stream: UFC.com
UFC 196: McGregor vs. Diaz Weigh-In Results
Fighter Conor McGregor Nate Diaz
Weight 168 169
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The biggest question heading into the fight is whether Diaz will attempt to survive a toe-to-toe slugfest with McGregor. The other, seemingly more probable, option is trying to slow the pace in the hope he can find an opening to go for a submission.
Elias Cepeda of Fox Sports passed along comments the American made about his approach during an interview with KXTV in his native California. As you’d expect, he didn’t provide many specifics.
“The game plan is to go in there, pfff pff, hit him with some good s–t, don’t get hit and come home with a pocket full of cash,” Diaz said. “I’ve got my team with me. I got all the boys. [I’m] ready to try and get the job done.”
For the sake of entertainment, hopefully Diaz is in all-out attack mode and withstands the initial barrage from McGregor. That’s something Jose Aldo couldn’t do against the Irishman, who scored a knockout just 13 seconds into the featherweight unification bout in December.
Reed Kuhn of Fightnomics provided the numbers behind what could become a fast-paced brawl:
McGregor doesn’t believe his opponent is ready for the big moment, though. Mike Bohn of Rolling Stone provided the polarizing superstar’s thoughts on what he’s seen from the typically boisterous Diaz. The answer is a lack of assertiveness.
“I sense a different Nate, I think it’s clear as day,” McGregor said. “He’s not himself, he’s timid, his voice is quivering, but I still have respect for him. But ring the bell and I’m coming out fast, I’m coming out spinning and his head is coming off. I think our speed difference is going to be really, really evident.”
If the fight is that simple and he scores another convincing victory, the next step would be trying to figure out what’s on the horizon in terms of giving him a serious foe.
One extremely long-shot idea that’s been floated out there is fighting Floyd Mayweather Jr. The undefeated boxer retired last year, but John Kavanagh, McGregor’s coach, believes it’s something that would create a massive amount of revenue, per Lance Pugmire of the Los Angeles Times.
“I think it would be incredible,” Kavanagh said. “From us, it’s a ‘yes’—whether it’s boxing, kickboxing or MMA, it’s a yes from us. It would be insane. What an honor it would be. A record-breaking event. The best MMA fighter versus the best boxer. Let’s do it.”The mainstream interest is undoubtedly there, which translates into big bucks. And the build up to the fight would be nothing short of amazing. But nobody should get their hopes up.
Mayweather built his 49-0 through tremendous boxing ability but also smart business sense. He always preferred the known over the unknown in terms of opponents. McGregor would represent the ultimate unknown, and all the pressure would be on Money.
But as unlikely as a bout between the two is, it’s something fun to think about.
For now, McGregor must focus on the task at hand. He’s moving up a couple of weight classes, and Diaz is a dangerous, well-rounded opponent despite losing three of his past five fights.
While it’s still a bout the featherweight champion should win, it could be a little trickier than it seems on paper. Some drama would only add to what should be a great atmosphere.
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