Everyone knows that Nate Diaz is a bigger guy than Conor McGregor.
He is taller and possesses a longer reach – there is no doubting those facts. He also walks around between fights at a heavier weight, by all accounts – not surprising, considering he was once a regular campaigner at welterweight and McGregor’s forays into that division have been limited to two bouts.
Still, there are many who would say that this size difference has been exaggerated in order to create a narrative that flatters the UFC’s top star.
When McGregor, his promoters or his fans say “He went up two weight classes to fight Diaz”, those not so enamoured with the Irishman and a good chunk of the neutral observers often scoff.
Yes, Diaz was a legitimate 170-pounder once upon a time, but prior to his first bout with McGregor, the Stockton native hadn’t fought at welterweight since April 2011 – although it should be noted that he did miss weight by some five pounds for a scheduled lightweight contest with Rafael dos Anjos at the end of 2014.
On top of this, McGregor is one of the biggest featherweights ever and few would dispute that he is actually more naturally suited to the lightweight division.
You can see then, why some don’t feel as though size was such a factor in their two fights.
However, a claim that UFC president Dana White recently made about the pair’s August rematch suggests that McGregor really was up against it in those showdowns.
While Nate weighed in at 170.5lbs on the day preceding UFC 202 and Conor scaled 168lbs, White said that come fight night things were very different.
“The night of the fight Diaz comes in at 190[lbs],” White said during an appearance on Hot 97 FM. Conor, he added, still weighed just 168lbs.
“Now, Conor McGregor is [145-pound to 155-pound] guy and if you look at the wars he’s had with Diaz – you can only have so many of those wars in your career man. And it just doesn’t make sense. That’s why we have weight classes. It ended up being an amazing fight but you don’t want to keep doing that.”
The president made the same claim about the fighter’s weights during a subsequent interview with Matt Serra and Jim Norton on UFC Unfiltered.
Maybe, just maybe, when White made these comments, he already knew that Alvarez vs McGregor was a done deal, after all, the interviews were only recorded in the last couple of days. Thus, he may have been getting a subtle head-start on the promotional push, hyping his amazing cash cow’s recent feats – as if Conor needed someone to do that for him.
Speaking of that fight, one of the most controversial pieces of information to emerge from it’s announcement was the UFC’s decision to allow McGregor to retain possession of the featherweight title – which by the time UFC 205 rolls around, he will have held for exactly 11 months without making a single defence.
Despite the fact that this hadn’t yet been announced at the time of his interview with Hot 97 FM, White did reveal some insight as to why the promotion tends to allow ‘The Notorious’ one more leeway than most other fighters.
“Conor McGregor is this guy where, if a fight falls out, this guy will step up,” said Dana. “He doesn’t give a shit, man. He’s legitimately that guy.
“I’ve been on the phone and I’ve stood in the living room many times and looked guys in the face when their opponent pulls out. Nobody faces that adversity the way that Conor McGregor does – it’s awesome and it makes me respect him very much. So that’s why I give this guy way more rope than I give anybody else.”
When one the hosts of the show suggested that the SBG product had been disrespectful of White in the past, the promotion’s figurehead replied emphatically.
“Conor can say whatever the hell he wants to me,” Dana said with a giggle.“The guy steps up on four days’ notice – he can say whatever he wants.”
“We are in the fight game, man. Who really wants to fight? That dude wants to fight, I promise you.”
You can listen to the relevant section of the interview below…