After weeks of drama and increasingly bizarre speculation, the winding saga that began with Conor McGregor’s now infamous retirement tweet has finally come to an end…back where it started.
No, McGregor will not battle Floyd Mayweather Jr. in a boxing match – for now at least that boundary-defying bout will remain pure fantasy. Nor will he defend his UFC featherweight title against the winner of the July 9th fight between Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar.
Instead, “The Notorious” one will face the man he was supposed to fight at UFC 200. The man who inflicted his first promotional defeat at UFC 196. The man that, realistically speaking, his sights have been set on this entire time.
That man is, of course, Nate Diaz.
It was announced during the UFC 199 telecast on Saturday night that McGregor vs Diaz 2 has been rescheduled and will headline UFC 202 on August 20 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
— UFC (@ufc) June 5, 2016
This fight has always seemed the most likely scenario. While UFC president Dana White stated at the UFC 200 and International Fight Week press conference back on April 22nd that he expected McGregor to face either Aldo or Edgar next, the time frame he provided for McGregor’s return seemed incompatible with such a bout.
White frequently stated that McGregor would return at either UFC 201 or 202, which would give the winner of Aldo vs Edgar very little time to recover and prepare.
McGregor had also made it quite clear that he was uninterested in a bout with either of the featherweight contenders until he had sought vengeance against Diaz.
Taking to social media a little over a week after the press conference, McGregor posted a video montage of highlights from the pair’s first fight, and written alongside it was the following message for UFC brass; “Nobody gives a fuck about these other fights until this one is settled. Cut the bullshit. Run it back. #RealFight”.
In recent weeks however, some doubts began to creep in. Diaz had a highly-publicized spat with the UFC, which was fuelled by his demand for a larger payday, and White claimed that the promotion was working on finding McGregor an alternative opponent.
Was this just a bluff on the company’s part to draw Diaz back into the fight? Or did White and the Fertitta brothers feel forced to financially appease the Stockton native? We don’t yet know. But either way, the fight is done…at long last.