Conor McGregor has gotten many questions — and plenty of criticism — for wanting to fight Nate Diaz again at welterweight, two divisions up from where McGregor holds the UFC title.
In a press conference last week in Las Vegas, McGregor addressed his reasons for wanting to take on Diaz at 170 pounds for a second straight time. The two will meet in the main event of UFC 202 on Aug. 20 at T-Mobile Arena in Vegas. Diaz beat McGregor by second-round submission in the first fight at UFC 196 in March.
"What kind of fighter would I be if I lost a contest at a specific weight against a specific individual and then I said, ‘Well, you got me this time, cut a load of weight and I'll get you at that weight?'" McGregor said. "It makes sense for me to have the contest at 170 to right the wrong. To leave no questions. This is the one. This is where I put everything to rest."
The first bout came together in strange fashion. McGregor, 28, was supposed to fight Rafael dos Anjos for the lightweight title at UFC 196. But 11 days out from the fight dos Anjos had to withdraw due to a broken foot. McGregor and the UFC tabbed the popular Diaz as the replacement.
Diaz, who had been vacationing in Cabo, flew to Los Angeles for a press conference on about 24 hours notice and he and McGregor tore the house down. It was one of the most watched press conferences ever on the UFC's YouTube channel. That hype, with McGregor's bravado and Diaz's no-nonsense, profane style, translated into the fight. UFC 196 did around 1.5 million pay-per-view buys for the top revenue figure ever in promotion history.
Diaz and McGregor were supposed to meet again at UFC 200, which took place last weekend in Las Vegas. The fight was signed and booked. But McGregor refused to go on a media tour to promote the fight in April and the UFC yanked him. McGregor tweeted that he'd be retiring and a month-long standoff with the UFC ensued.
The UFC gave Diaz the option of staying on the UFC 200 card against someone else, but Diaz turned it down, famously saying at a press conference that if it wasn't McGregor across from him he'd be "going on vacation."
"Real fighters respect real fighters," McGregor said. "I respect that he held out for me as well. But at the same time, he played the safe option. He didn't take what's known in the game as a McGregor risk. He was offered welterweight belts, he turned them down. He was offered lightweight belts, he turned them down. He played what was in his mind a safer option. I respect that he did it. It was a smart move on his behalf. Why not? But not everyone is willing to take the risks that I am willing to take."
One of those risks is fighting Diaz, a bigger man though he fights at lightweight, again at welterweight. But, in McGregor's mind, that is another gamble worth taking on the Las Vegas Strip.