UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor is on the verge of signing a contract for a massive trilogy-completing showdown with Stockton sub n’ slug specialist Nate Diaz, according to a recent report from an Irish media outlet.
The pair first met at UFC 196 in March of 2016, when Diaz stepped in to replace the injured Rafael dos Anjos on short notice and shocked the world by weathering an early storm to submit McGregor in the second round of a thrilling welterweight scrap.
In the return bout a little over five months later, McGregor entered a more controlled performance, swapping out flashy capoeira style kicks for the more energy-efficient leg kicks that had traditionally worked on Diaz in the past and loading up less frequently with his vaunted left hand. He still had to come through some scary moments in a titanic battle with the iron-chinned, iron-willed Diaz, but he claimed a majority decision and a measure of vengeance after five rounds.
Both fighters have since spoken frequently about their desire to battle it out one more time and according to the Sunday World there is a strong possibility that a third bout will happen at the UFC’s traditional, big year-end show in Las Vegas on December 30th.
Following the announcement of McGregor’s boxing match with Floyd Mayweather Jr. back in June, UFC president Dana White claimed that ‘The Notorious’ Irishman would return to the octagon shortly after his foray into boxing concluded, possibly before the end of 2017. But writing for the42.ie several weeks after the August cross-codes super-fight, McGregor’s coach John Kavanagh admitted that he found it hard to envisage such a quick turnaround.
Kavanagh did, however, add that his charge’s characteristic unpredictability made it almost impossible to completely rule out.
“Then again, knowing Conor, I could get a text message tonight telling me otherwise,” wrote the SBG Ireland founder. “He’s difficult to predict, which is one of the many reasons why he’s so fascinating.”
Though both McGregor’s previous clashes with Diaz took place at welterweight, the brash Dubliner has always said that a third bout would have to take place at lightweight – the division in which he is the reigning UFC champion and where Diaz has primarily campaigned since 2011.
While McGregor hasn’t competed in the octagon since November of 2016, when he ripped the 155-pound strap from Eddie Alvarez in the main event of the UFC’s first ever show at Madison Square Garden, Diaz has been on an even longer hiatus. The bloody second battle with McGregor was Diaz’s most recent bout.