Unlike most UFC rivalries, in which a lot of the animosity between the fighters seems scripted, the dislike between between Diaz and McGregor is palpable.
The hype behind the rematch between UFC featherweight champion, Conor McGregor (19-3) and Nate Diaz (19-10) left off right where the previous fight left off.
Ireland’s McGregor meets Diaz in a welterweight division battle at UFC 202 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Aug. 20. McGregor’s title is not on the line, but both men’s pride sure seems to be.
The two fought in March at UFC 196, and Diaz defeated McGregor by submission in the second round. The rematch originally was planned for the historic UFC 200, but McGregor was scratched after refusing to meet the promotion’s pre-fight media obligations.
Although the bout isn’t supposed to take place until Saturday, McGregor and Diaz already have gotten physical.
On Wednesday, McGregor arrived late to the pre-fight press conference, jokingly citing traffic issues, but neither UFC president Dana White nor Diaz seemed to be amused.
The California fighter later walked out, tossing insults at his foe – and, before long, they were throwing actual water bottles at each other. McGregor had to be restrained, and Diaz and his entourage were escorted out of the arena.
White told TMZ [http://www.tmz.com/2016/08/18/dana-white-conor-mcgregor-nate-diaz-lawsuit-water-bottle-fight-ufc/] that there is a likelihood that the Nevada State Athletic Commission will be fining both men – there even appears to be a lawsuit being prepared by a by-stander who was struck in the fracas.
However, before any of that is decided, the fighters will have to deal with each other inside the octagon.
Diaz said he is prepared for war.
“I have to keep it real. I have to stay true to myself, and if he comes in with his whole team – well, I have a whole gang here ready to ride,” he said. “I’ve been training like normal for this, not taking this differently than any other fight ... I did bring in some pro boxers and some kick-boxers to work with this time but that’s all. I expect all kinds of surprises from Conor, so I’m making sure that I’m ready for whatever he brings. I’m not making any predictions. I’m just going in there to win.”
Meanwhile, McGregor, the biggest draw in MMA these days, clearly feels the fire behind the rematch.
“It’s a big fight. It always was. We’re ready to fight, so let’s go,” he said. “This invincible feeling Nate has that he can’t get knocked out – he’s going to get knocked out on Saturday.”
Moving up in weight division doesn’t seem to bother McGregor. “My legacy was set in stone when I knocked Jose Aldo in 13 seconds,” he said. “This is a straight fight, I came for a straight fight.”
McGregor defeated Aldo last year to claim the featherweight title.
Even though McGregor lost his first encounter with Diaz, he is confident that he learned from his mistakes, calling his foe a “tall, lanky, ugly Mexican southpaw.”
“I am going to go in and do what I always do,” he said. “I am going to go out and press forward, have that man backed up just like I had him in the past fight, and I am going to tee off on him this time. I am going to be a lot more prepared for the weight and distance also.”
But Diaz isn’t buying McGregor’s bravado.
"That's what he said last time," Diaz said at the press conference Wednesday. "I think he's got a lot of people around him, and he's trying to pump himself up. He's either lying to himself or too worried about his confidence or trying to make himself believe it. But he remembers what happened in the last fight.”
Unlike most bouts where a lot of the animus between fighters seems scripted, it feels real between Diaz and McGregor.
“He's got pictures of me up in his garage with him punching me in the face,” Diaz said. “Who does that? That's trying to make yourself believe something, that's all. I just think he's trying to hype his own self up. But when he goes to sleep at night, he remembers what happened the last time."
Win or lose, McGregor’s next opponent will be Aldo in a featherweight title fight.