The Irish buzzsaw Conor McGregor, the UFC Featherweight champion, conquerer of Jose Aldo last December, was ready to make history against Rafael Dos Anjos, the UFC Lightweight champion. Again, an opponent was injured in training. This was welcome news to Nate Diaz, 30, who will get to fight McGregor instead on March 5th in the main event of UFC 196 and at 170 pounds to boot.
There are opposing dynamics in this contest and the two fighters involved. Diaz record is average at 18-10. But he has pedigree. He is the brother of a former Strikeforce and WEC Champion and has benefitted by competing for various MMA organizations in addition to the UFC. He was the Ultimate Fighter 5 winner. He will bring a jiu-jitsu background into this non-title contest.
For McGregor, the fall of Ronda Rousey has made him the top attraction in UFC at the moment. His one round demolition of Jose Aldo confirmed his boasting as the best in his division. He was slated to fight against Dos Anjos in an attempt to become the first man to hold UFC titles at two weights, but Rafael broke his foot. McGregor though is gambling not with his title, which will not be on the line, but his reputation and position as the marketing alpha male of UFC. The 145 pound champ, who was looking to add the 155 pound belt will now be fighting at 170 pounds against a man in Diaz who has fought regularly at 170.
For Conor, its about seeing what happens when one gazes too far from the edge of the MMA cliff. For Diaz, this is a major superfight opportunity that cannot be passed up. In the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, fans will not be disappointed as we will either witness Diaz gaining the upset of the year or Conor confirming his greatness as a fighter, period.
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