The biggest test of Conor McGregor’s UFC career will come this Saturday August 20. ‘The Notorious’ will take on Nate Diaz in the UFC 202 main event with a rich story underlying the rematch. It all started 11 days out from UFC 196 when Diaz was announced as Rafael dos Anjos’ replacement. Although the bout would take place at welterweight, the Irishman was still heavily favoured to win. Once again the odds were cast aside on fight night.
Diaz stunned the mixed martial arts world with a submission victory inside two rounds. McGregor’s first ever UFC loss would lead to an immediate rematch being booked, but the tale would only get stranger. Sensing his expansion in to the mainstream, arguably at a greater rate than the promotion, ‘The Notorious’ would get himself removed from UFC 200.
Rivalries with the WWE roster and boxing great Floyd Mayweather highlighted McGregor’s celebrity status. His biggest hurdle is still yet to be crossed though, and the hype behind the rematch with Nate Diaz seemed a little quiet. There weren’t nearly as many confrontations as before UFC 196, until last night. The August 17 UFC 202 pre-fight press conference exploded in to a frenzy of thrown cans and bottles and was cut short by UFC president Dana White.
McGregor told Kenny Florian and Daniel Cormier on UFC Tonight how he saw the now infamous ruckus:
“I saw panicking in the stands, I thought they may have been dehydrated, so I was simply launching up some rehydration. I don’t know what happened, it was just handbags. I’m fully prepared to go the distance with this man, I’m confident in my Jiu-jitsu. I had an army style approach to this fight, a very scientific approach to my cardio. I’m confident in my grappling.”
“In the first fight, before he landed that left and my tank emptied, I was dominating the grappling. He caught my kick and took me down but I swept him, I feel I won the grappling exchanges against the fences too. There’s no denying it took skill (from Diaz) but my tank was empty.“
With only two days left to wait, UFC 202 is being forecast as the biggest pay-per-view draw of all-time. UFC president Dana White also recently revealed their last fight had broken the record set by UFC 100. UFC 200 however, McGregor is probably right in saying it ‘tanked’ in comparison.