Nate Diaz to face Conor McGregor at UFC 196
Published on Tuesday, 2/23/16, at 11:51 p.m. Eastern.
Updated on Wednesday, 2/24/16, at 9:25 a.m. Eastern.
This is going to be fun!
Less than 12 hours after lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos withdrew from UFC 196 due to a foot injury, Conor McGregor has a new opponent. His name is Nathan Diaz.
‘The Notorious’ will have to wait to challenge for the 155-pound strap. Instead, McGregor will scrap with Nate Diaz at welterweight in next Saturday’s five-round headliner in Las Vegas.
There will be no belt on the line. In other words, these fighters are coming to put on a show. And what a show it should be.
Although Diaz is taking the fight on just 12 days of notice, he and his brother Nick are notorious for remaining in terrific shape 365 days a year.
Diaz is coming off one of the finest performances of his career, a unanimous-decision win over Michael Johnson at UFC Orlando this past December.
Both fighters have terrific boxing, but Diaz has been vulnerable to kicks in the past, especially in last year’s loss to Dos Anjos. McGregor is known for vicious body kicks that suck the life out of his opponents.
Diaz also fell victim to kicks in the only knockout loss of his career against Josh ‘The Punk’ Thomson.
Fox Sports was the first to report the news late Tuesday night.
Kevin Iole of Yahoo Sports spoke to Dana White.
UFC president Dana White told Yahoo Sports Tuesday that he wanted the fight to be at lightweight, but said Diaz asked for it at 165. White said he countered at 160, but then called McGregor.
“Conor said, ‘Screw it, let’s fight the [expletive] at 170,’ ” White said. “So that’s what we did. The guy is going to go up two weight classes.”
According to multiple reports, Frankie Edgar and Jose Aldo were the first to be offered the fight. However, Aldo’s coach said his fighter was not ready on 12 days of notice, nor was Edgar, who cited an injury.
White told Iole that the finalists were Diaz, Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone and Anthony ‘Showtime’ Pettis. After awaiting feedback from fans, the promotion decided on Diaz.
McGregor has only competed in the featherweight division under the UFC banner. He’ll be moving up from 145 pounds to 170.
Diaz has competed at both lightweight and welterweight. He owns a 2-2 record at 170.
5Dimes opened McGregor as a -280 favorite, but the betting shop was at -320 by 12:40 a.m. Wednesday morning. Diaz was at +260 on the comeback (risk $100 to win $260). The total is 2.5 rounds (-175 for the ‘under,’ +155 to the ‘over’).
By 9:25 a.m. Wednesday morning, 5Dimes had moved McGregor to -370, while Diaz was left as the +310 underdog. The juice on ‘under’ bets increased to -185 (+160 for the ‘over’).
The shit talking will really get started this [Wednesday] afternoon in Los Angeles, where both fighters will participate in open workouts before meeting with the media.
Now obviously, the Diaz Brothers are known to skip a few appearances that are always a part of the pre-fight game, so we’ll see if Nate shows up. Considering how much cash is on the table for him to earn, I would think Nate will make it (belatedly, of course). Also, Iole noted that Diaz was given a two-fight extension to his contract for taking this bout on short notice.
Lest we forget, there’s also this little matter of a co-main event for UFC 196. Holly Holm will be defending her women’s bantamweight title for the first time against Miesha ‘Cupcake’ Tate. Most spots had Holm favored in the -360 range this morning (risk $360 to win $300). I believe Tate is worth a shot for the lucrative +300 payout.
In other UFC news on Tuesday, Fabricio Werdum will finally defend his heavyweight championship in the UFC 198 main event vs. Stipe Miocic. These two will fight at a soccer stadium in Brazil.
Finally, we leave you with McGregor’s most recent tweet.
— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) February 24, 2016