What a week it has been in MMA. If anything, this week has proven exactly why this is the craziest, most exciting and fastest growing sport out there today.
On Monday, there was a buzz around the nation as everyone noted that we were less than two weeks away from Conor McGregor attempting to make history by becoming the first dual weight champion in UFC history. One day later, lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos is reported to be out of the March 5th superfight with a broken foot, and then the chaos began.
Dos Anjos pulled out of his superfight with McGregor for the lightweight belt on February 23rd, just twelve days out from the fight. This script is very similar to that of McGregor’s originally slated July fight with Jose Aldo, in which Aldo too pulled out twelve or so days from their featherweight title at UFC 189.
And one more thing that is similar to this script from July, McGregor’s attitude has remained the exact same: it’s his show, his card, and anyone will do. As soon as the news broke, fighters from featherweight up to lightweight were on Twitter calling their shot, pitching their sale to the UFC as to why they deserved the bout with McGregor, but by the end of the day we were down to two: Donald Cerrone and Nate Diaz. Both were indeed lucrative options, with both men being ranked in the top five of the lightweight division. But ultimately, the UFC brass chose the kid from Stockton 209, Nate Diaz.
The decision to go with Diaz made sense for a number of reasons. Firstly, from a competitive perspective, Diaz holds a unanimous decision over Donald Cerrone from back at UFC 141 in the co-main event in a fight of the night performance.
And secondly, from a business perspective, the Diaz brothers, both his older brother Nick and Nate himself are two of the most captivating figures in the sport today. Nate is a no-nonsense fighter, he says what he wants inside and outside of the octagon, and he certainly is as real as it gets.
There is no act or hyping up a fight with Diaz, he will curse, flip the finger and talk trash on his opponent and he will mean every single gesture he makes and word he says, which is something we don’t see a lot of in modern day sports. It is an element to Diaz’s personality that the masses appreciate and tune in to.
This writer is as excited for this fight as the Dos Anjos one. Does it possess the same prestige and historic value as a Dos Anjos vs McGregor bout? No. But in terms of fight promotion and build up it is certainly more exciting given both fighter’s brash and outspoken personalities, and stylistically it is easily on par with the Dos Anjos clash.
The pre-fight press conference, which took place on Wednesday, was ironically symbolic of the days which had preceded it leading up to the fight being announced, as it was absolutely chaotic. From McGregor jibing that Diaz teaches Jiu Jitsu to Junior Infants while also bike riding with the elderly to maintain a steady income, to Diaz accusing McGregor of steroid abuse and having only built a reputation off of beating up midgets, the whole thing was a massive success and massively entertaining.
And the stare down was the perfect cherry atop of this insane press event, as both men traded words face-to-face with a look of intensity in their eyes which can only confirm one thing: both men are ready for war.
Conor Swords, Pundit Arena