A look at UFC 196's main event as Nick Diaz steps in for the injured Dos Anjos to face Conor McGregor
With Lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos withdrawing from the historic fight citing a broken foot, the search was on to replace him. Candidates threw their hat into the ring on social media, campaigning for a shot at the Irishman who has transcended mixed martial arts to new levels, but less than 24 hours after the withdrawal, The Notorious' next opponent was waiting in the wings.
Nate Diaz, UFC veteran and one of the few people in the organization who can contend with McGregor for trash talk, stepped in to continue a feud from where the seeds were planted a long time ago. And by the time the fight rolls round, excitement will be through the roof.
Matchmaking laws go out the window for this fight. It's not about win streaks, nor is it really about weight divisions or titles. It's just a fight that sooner or later would need to happen; and now UFC 196 is that opportunity.
All that was needed to spark the fireworks was to put both fighters in the same room. A press conference just 10 days out from the event typified exactly why many have been clamouring for a fight between Diaz and McGregor.
Security was in abundance at the UFC Gym in Torance, California where both the Irishman and American would pull no punches as they let the verbal warfare begin. In a nutshell, steroid accusations to Notorious antics all topped off with a sizeable serving of NSFW language made for compulsive viewing - who knows if the fight can even top it off.
With Nate Diaz taking the fight on such short notice, weight cutting was going to be a factor. After reported negotiations continued, the fight was confirmed to take place at Welterweight, 170 lbs. That's 25 lbs higher than the weight at which McGregor fights as Featherweight champion: Will size come into question?
Who knows what will be the case at a bigger weight class. Nate Diaz should be comfortable but its a long way up for his opponent. In addition, McGregor will no longer have the reach advantage, conceding 2 inches to his Stockton-based opponent, and 3 inches in height.
But if the fight does go to the ground, although unlikely, from what we have seen inside the cage Diaz is the favourite here. It's most likely this won't touch the mat but maybe it will, we could be surprised - by both McGregor and Diaz.
One thing is for sure, though - it's going to be a lot of fun. The buildup, the trash talk and a stylistic matchup to ponder over: a clash of Stockton vs. Dublin will transcend the sport to another level.
The wise pick is Conor McGregor. Diaz is past his prime and the short camp may still leave him out of fight shape: it's a big tale of ifs and buts, especially with a big jump in weight classes,but McGregor should be able to land plentifully, whether or not it will put away Diaz remains to be seen, but a win here is certain.
Should it be a knockout, then the craziness will be incomprehensible. It already is. Buckle up fight fans, its going to be a wild ride.