Conor McGregor & Nate Diaz Returns Come Right On Time For UFC

Conor McGregor

Yesterday, the UFC went big and announced the long-awaited returns of rivals Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz at their 25th Anniversary Press Conference from Los Angeles, California.

They won’t be fighting each other in their long-rumored trilogy bout – at least not yet – as it was announced McGregor will meet lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov in the main event of October 6’s UFC 229 and Diaz will face surging top lightweight Dustin Poirier in the co-main event of November 3’s UFC 230.

At least, that’s the plan for now, as Diaz soon claimed he wouldn’t be fighting at UFC 230 after walking out of the presser during the announcement of McGregor’s return. The Stockton bad boy soon went off on the UFC and Dana White for supposedly telling lies about him turning down fights while he was dealing with a lawsuit and failing to promote him effectively. So just like everything seemingly involving the Diaz brothers, nothing is for certain, although it seems like he will be back to fight Poirier this fall.

As for McGregor, well, his return was much more anticipated than the late-night revelation of Diaz’ return this week, with signs pointing to him returning to action against Nurmagomedov ever since he cleared up his assault charges from his UFC 223 melee in a Brooklyn, New York, courtroom last month. Regardless of the specifics of each, however, both come at a time when the UFC needs them most.

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Pay-per-view (PPV) buys and television ratings have literally been at all-time lows in 2018, with July 7’s UFC 226 barely breaking 400,000 buys despite a historic champion vs. champion superfight in the main event and July 28’s UFC on FOX 30 drawing the lowest ratings in history even though it had two pivotal knockouts at the top of the billing. That’s all about to change, of course, as McGregor’s return against the undefeated “Eagle” could legitimately be the first UFC card to bring in 2 million buys. Even if it doesn’t, the Irishman’s return to the Octagon will almost assuredly save an otherwise disastrous year for UFC owners Endeavor like his boxing match with Floyd Mayweather did last year.

Diaz’ return a month later against Poirier, a perhaps lesser-known but maybe more exciting opponent in terms of in-cage action, is simply icing on the cake, and he reminded us why he’s so unique and valuable to the sport of MMA at the tail-end of his on-camera rant yesterday. Asked about the outcome of Nurmagomedov vs. McGregor, Diaz unleashed a classic tirade about how the outcome didn’t matter because both were his “b****’:

“I whipped one’s a** and I slapped the f*** outta the other one, so they’re both my little b*****s, that’s who I got. F***, right in his face, he didn’t do s***. Scared for his life, him and all his Russian friends. He’s from a third-world country, n****a, I’m from Stockton, he got his a** slapped, didn’t do s***. All their eyes lit up, didn’t do s***, his whole team, f****n’ all p*****s.”

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Photo Credit: Joshua Dahl for USA TODAY Sports

Crude, some may claim, yet it’s a rant only Diaz could come out with and get so many heads turning, so his return is more than a breath of fresh air no matter what his in-cage record may state he deserves or doesn’t deserve.

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The fight game has been waiting for Diaz to return since he lost a thin majority decision to McGregor at UFC 202 in August 2016, and he’s still the only man to defeat “The Notorious” in the Octagon. Part of that is because McGregor hasn’t competed in MMA since 2016 himself, and while his August 2017 boxing match with Mayweather. was a fun enough spectacle in its own right, the UFC and MMA as a whole have been aching to see their biggest star compete as they watched him go down a concerning path outside the cage.

He’s appeared to have righted that ship – at least for now – and will swoop in to save the year with quite possibly the biggest mixed martial arts contest of all-time.

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Make no mistake, even though “The Eagle” is their biggest asset in their desired and expanding Russian market, the UFC wants McGregor to win and presumably face off against the winner of Diaz vs. Poirier a month later. Both would be rematches of fights he’s already won and the kind of massive business the UFC’s current ownership seems to be trying to manufacture out of thin air with their ridiculous creation of never-ending interim titles that are stipped from their winners as quickly as they are won.

But all the fake UFC titles in the world won’t even add up to one one-thousandth of one Conor McGregor, and we’re already seeing that the day after his return was announced.

Couple that with Diaz’ unexpected comeback to stir the pot, and you have all the ingredients to end 2018 with a unique mix of MMA action never before staged in one months’ span.

It’s been a brutal year for MMA and its fans; no serious follower of the sport could or would dispute that statement. All of that is about to turn around exactly at the right time, ladies and gentlemen.