No.6: Nate Diaz vs. Conor McGregor
When Nate Diaz agreed to fight Conor McGregor at UFC 196 on less than two weeks notice in March, the general consensus was that the Irishman should be considered a significant favorite to emerge victorious.
After all, Diaz had literally been partying on a yacht in Mexico when he received the UFC’s call, while McGregor was coming off a huge 13 second KO win over long-time featherweight champ Jose Aldo and had been training hard for months to fight lightweight title holder, Rafael dos Anjos.
Nevertheless, though McGregor was as much as a 5-1 favorite to win there were warning signs that this match-up might not go his way.
For one thing, Diaz had looked in excellent form in his previous fight with Michael Johnson on FOX just a few months earlier, while the fact the Stockton native had successfully lobbied to have the fight take place at 170lbs also worked in his favor as the naturally larger man.
In the early stages of the fight McGregor’s speed and clinical striking appeared to be edging the contest, but Diaz took his best shots and then turned the screw as ‘The Notorious’ began to tire in the second round.
Initially hurting him with punches, Diaz then took advantage of a desperate takedown attempt from from McGregor to take his back and tap him out with a rear-naked choke, becoming the first fighter to defeat the superstar in the Octagon and notch up what was undoubtedly the most talked about upset victory of the year.
Directly addressing those who had doubted him pre-fight, Diaz then took to the mic and infamously declared, “I’m not surprised motherf***ers!”