After months of often ridiculous rumors, high-stakes negotiations, and big-money meetings at over-priced restaurants, the rematch between featherweight king Conor McGregor and lightweight contender Nate Diaz has officially been rescheduled for UFC 202 on August 20th in Sin City.
Announced during Saturday’s UFC 199, the second chapter of this cash-fueled conflict will allow both fighters to take advantage of a full training camp, and although Diaz won their first meeting with a world-shocking submission, McGregor is already listed as the favorite.
According to MMA Oddsmaker.com, McGregor has opened as a slight favorite at -130. Entering their first meeting at UFC 196 in March, the Irishman closed as a much heavier favorite at -600.
— UFC (@ufc) June 5, 2016
Until Saturday night’s somewhat surprising announcement, rumors regarding unsuccessful meetings between Diaz and the UFC left things looking doubtful. But ultimately, McGregor’s overwhelming desire for revenge obviously forced the UFC to make the rematch a reality.
”Conor is obsessed with this rematch,” said White during last week’s appearance on ESPN’s Sportscenter. ”I don’t know why, but he is. It’s just his type of personality. He’s obsessed with it. He’s obsessed with fighting Diaz again—at 170-pounds.”’
In April, McGregor refused to take a break from his training camp in Iceland in order to fulfill his promotional obligations for UFC 200. As a result, the UFC pulled McGregor off of the card at UFC 200 and cancelled the rematch, and the Irishman temporarily retired, throwing the world of MMA into the wrong kind of chaos.
Prior to defeating McGregor, Diaz had fought only twice since registering an opening-round, knockout-victory over Gray Maynard in November of 2013. But after dropping a unanimous-decision loss to current lightweight champ Rafael Dos Anjos in December of 2014, a victory against Michael Johnson one year later threw Diaz a lifeline in the UFC’s lightweight rankings.
For McGregor, the outcome of the rematch could easily decide whether he’ll continue to compete in the featherweight division, or, make the move up to either the lightweight or welterweight division and vacate his belt. But for now, McGregor is only interested in fighting Diaz at 170-pounds in order to replicate the circumstances of their first fight.
”What kind of fighter would I be if I said, ‘Hey, I didn’t get you at 170, let me try to get you at 155”’, McGregor told ESPN. ”I’ll make my adjustments. I ate up to the weight. This time, I won’t do that.”
While Diaz’ win was obviously unexpected, the fact that McGregor’s popularity hasn’t suffered since losing to the veteran lightweight is almost as unbelievable. But that won’t last forever, and if McGregor is going to continue to be the sport’s biggest draw, he simply must win the rematch.