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Conor McGregor (20-3) exacted the revenge he craved over Nate Diaz (19-11) when he defeated the Stockton, CA, fighter by majority decision in an action-packed non-title welterweight fight at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday night.
“Surprise, surprise, motherf******, the king is back,” McGregor told Joe Rogan in the octagon after the fight. “He is a hell of a competitor, and he brought out the best in me.”
There was a lot of pressure on McGregor coming into this fight. After his defeat at UFC 196 to Diaz on March 5 via second round submission, he demanded a rematch at 170 pounds, 25 pounds above his normal fighting weight. Another loss would have put paid to his ambition of remaining one of the top stars in the UFC.
Unlike the first fight where McGregor tried to knock out his opponent with every punch, “The Notorious” was much more patient this time and used leg kicks to neutralize Diaz in the early rounds. McGregor went to the leg again and again in the first and second rounds. The leg work helped set up some sharp combination punching for McGregor, and he knocked Diaz down three times. However, at the end of the second, Diaz came on strong with a flurry of shots of his own that stung the Irishman against the cage.
In the third, Diaz put intense pressure on McGregor and connected with some huge punches and elbows. McGregor looked tired and wobbly as Diaz, who was cut around the right eye, pushed forward and hurt him continuously. McGregor looked in pieces as he walked back to his corner at the bell. In the fourth, McGregor found his second wind and came back with more leg kicks and solid combinations to the head and body. By now, the face of Diaz was a scarlet mess. Blood flowed into his eyes, causing him to constantly wipe his face, but Diaz did not take a back step. In the final round, Diaz emptied his tank and took the Irishman down, but he could not finish the fight. After the scores were tallied, two of the judges had the fight 48-47 in favor of McGregor and one had it a 47-47 draw.
After the fight, McGregor confirmed to Rogan that leg kicks were a key part of his strategy. “He took them better than expected,” said the Irishman, who went on to say the he is more than willing to fight Diaz in a third fight. “All that I know is the it is 1-1. Regroup and we’ll do it again, this time at 155 pounds. I came up to 170, faced the bigger man and overcame my adversity. Now, if you want the trilogy, it’s on my terms. Come down to 155, and we will do it.”
Diaz complained to Rogan that he did not have a smooth training camp but gave McGregor props for his performance. “Hey, good job today Conor, but we are going for number three.” While the pressure is on McGregor to drop back down to 145 pounds to defend his featherweight title, these two warriors are destined to meet again after the fight-of-the-year candidate they served up at UFC 202.
— UFC (@ufc) August 21, 2016