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UFC 202: Does Conor McGregor have a fighting chance against Nate Diaz?

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When Conor McGregor (19-3) and Nate Diaz (19-10) step into the cage this coming Saturday night in the main event of UFC 202, there will be more on the line than any title the UFC could possibly create. Make no mistake bout it, Conor McGregor is the most popular male fighter on the UFC roster.

Whether you like him or not, Conor McGregor is the reason why Nate Diaz is about to become a multi-millionaire. And if Diaz can beat McGregor again, well, let’s just say that the sky is the limit for the TUF Season 5 winner. A fight with GSP, a title shot against Eddie Alvarez – take your pick – Nate Diaz has the upper hand when it comes to the negotiation table from here on out. But if McGregor wins – forget about it. Where do we even begin? Regardless, let’s get back to the lecture at hand.

Perfection was perfected when McGregor KO’d Aldo at UFC 194. He could’ve stayed right at 145 lbs and continued to dominate in a division where he’d always have the upper hand over everyone in the division. Instead, he made a conscious decision to move up and fight Rafael dos Anjos for the 155 lbs title. We all know what happened next, RDA fell out due to injury and Nate Diaz would come in on 11 days notice to fight McGregor at 170 lbs. Diaz would go on to submit McGregor in the 2nd round of one of the most exciting fights of the year, setting us up for an immediate rematch of a fight that was never supposed to happen in the first place.

Conor McGregor made a promise when he decided to move up and fight at 155 lbs. The featherweight champ told us that he’d stay active in both divisions. He assumed that he’d become the champ at 155 lbs after defeating Dos Anjos and he’d come right back down to the featherweight division to defend his title. He was going to compete about 4 times a year, twice in each division, and everything would be kosher. Instead, he’d end up tapping out to Nate Diaz at two weight classes above his “championship” weight and he’d become obsessed with avenging his loss.

In their second encounter, Nate Diaz is the current underdog over “The Notorious” Conor McGregor. This surprises us, but it doesn’t shock us based on how McGregor has been able to use his silver tongue to sway the odds makers in the past. What does shock is that the line is so close. While McGregor was able to land his upper cut at will in their first meeting, he really never had Diaz in any serious trouble before he so desperately shot in on Diaz for that takedown in the 2nd round.

Hindsight is the key word when it comes to this rematch. Now that we’ve seen these two fight, it’s extremely difficult to find a scenario where McGregor comes out with his hand raised. That said, we had plenty of reasons to believe McGregor would emerge victorious before these two first decided not to touch gloves. Furthermore, anything can happen on any given night, after all, this is mixed martial arts. Michael Bisping knocked out Luke Rockhold for Christ’s sake. We can go ahead and throw logic out the window when it comes to any main event from here on out.

Here’s what we can guarantee. Nate Diaz versus Conor McGregor 2 will shatter every UFC PPV record. They may not want to admit it, but it will. Their first fight was responsible for the 2nd highest buy rate in company history and that fight was made on under two weeks notice. This is just one of those once in a lifetime combat sports pairings that make so much sense because it makes no sense at all – if that makes any sense.

In McGregor we have the consummate self-promoter who was able to back it up until that first meeting with Diaz. In Diaz we have the veteran anti authority bad ass who just becomes more likeable every time we see him due to his sheer authenticity, this is a man who gives zero f**ks about what you think of him.  When you put them together you generate interest beyond the world of mixed martial arts.

Before being broken by Diaz, McGregor’s 15-fight win streak dated all he way back to 2011. That was before he was submitted by Joseph Duffy just 38 seconds into their lightweight bout at Cage Warriors 39 in November of 2010. More importantly, he was 7-0 in the UFC and after his record breaking 13-second KO of Jose Aldo his confidence was at an all-time high.

In between that time, Diaz put together a 5-5 record (0-2 at welterweight, 5-2 at lightweight, 0-1 at catchweight) against the best of the best that the UFC had to offer. After defeating Michael Johnson via UD at UFC on FOX 17, Diaz cut an incredible promo that would end up being the smartest business decision of his career.

It goes without saying that McGregor is taking this rematch seriously. He could’ve had it at UFC 200 but he decided that he needed to concentrate more on training instead of promoting. Will it end up being the right move in the end? Only time will tell.

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