The epic rivalry between UFC stars Nate Diaz and Conor McGregor gave us some legendary moments, but it all started with a man and a microphone.
In December 2014, “Notorious” was quickly becoming the biggest name in MMA and had just picked up the most impressive victory of his career against Dustin Poirier.
Diaz, frustrated with the attention McGregor was getting, used his moment on the microphone after beating Michael Johnson in December 2015 to send a message to the Irishman.
“Conor McGregor, you take everything I worked for, you fucking *****. I’m gonna fight your fucking ass,” Diaz yelled.
“You know what the real fight is, what the real money fight is, me, not those clowns you already punk at the press conference. Nobody wants to see that. You know you can beat them already. It’s an easy fight. You want real sex, [I’m] here.”
At the time, Diaz’s appeal fell on deaf ears as McGregor was determined to become the featherweight champion, which he did by beating Chad Mendes and Jose Aldo to end 2015 with the ‘gold.
Eager to replicate his success with Cage Warriors, “Mystic Mac” moved up to lightweight in a bid to become the first UFC dual-weight champion in history.
Rafael dos Anjos, who held the lightweight title at the time, suffered an injury that ruled him out of UFC 196 and forced McGregor to fight for a new opponent on short notice.
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Who better than the fan favorite who once did an epic McGregor promo?
McGregor and Diaz agreed to a match on short notice in a fight that forever changed the course of both their careers.
The featherweight champion entered the fight as a heavy favorite and in the first round it was clear why as he pieced his opponent to the feet and looked like he was on course for another big win.
Things quickly changed in the second round as the UFC legend couldn’t get rid of Diaz despite throwing everything at him.
McGregor grew weary before he was rocked by a punch and fired for an ill-advised takedown.
The California native landed a few groundstrokes and timed a rear choke submission – he had won against all odds – before delivering a memorable four-word reaction to the biggest win of his career: “I don’t am not surprised, my mother ******.’
An immediate rematch followed, and this time McGregor was much more prepared for his opponent’s durability.
The 33-year-old landed often, dropped Diaz multiple times and survived some tough times to bounce back with a majority decision victory.
Six years later, McGregor is the biggest star in MMA history and his value exceeds $180 million.
The Dubliner’s newfound wealth is not helping him in the octagon as he has recorded just one win since 2016 and is on a two-game losing streak.
Diaz is in a similar situation. The 37-year-old is a big star but inactive and on a two-fight losing streak heading into the final fight of his UFC contract.
The Ultimate Fighter winner is desperate to have his last fight in the UFC and leave the promotion, in order to explore the lucrative free agency market that could bring him a fight with YouTuber-turned-boxer Jake Paul.
Earlier this week, Diaz called for his release from the UFC and hinted that a fight against “The Problem Child” is what awaits him after MMA.
UFC president Dana White says Diaz fighting someone like Paul is probably the right move, but it looks like the UFC president intends to keep one of his biggest stars in order that he can confront him with McGregor for one last time.
As the Irishman nears his return date, fighters such as Charles Oliveira, Michael Chandler and Jorge Masvidal are lining up to fight him, but the biggest possible fight is the trilogy with Diaz.
The UFC bigwigs know this and have so far refused to grant Diaz a release for one last fight.
While this may frustrate the often outspoken fighter, it could land him another huge payday to fight McGregor and settle their rivalry once and for all.
Gates McGregor vs. Diaz
Conor McGregor vs. Nate Diaz I, UFC 196: $8,197,628.00
Conor McGregor vs. Nate Diaz II, UFC 202: $7,700,810.60