McGregor had risen to superstardom in just two short years with the UFC, knocking out all-time great Jose Aldo in 13 seconds to capture the undisputed featherweight title and set up a superfight with lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos at UFC 196. An injury forced dos Anjos out of the meeting, leading to him being replaced on short-notice by cult hero Diaz.
After the bout was moved up one division to welterweight, McGregor entered as a heavy favorite despite giving up size to Diaz. After an exciting first round, Diaz dialed up the intensity in round two, stinging McGregor on the feet and forcing him into a panic takedown. That was the beginning of the end for “The Notorious,” who soon found himself tapping out to a rear-naked choke.
It was McGregor’s first loss in five years, and he demanded an immediate rematch, which he would get five months later at UFC 202. There, McGregor defeated Diaz by majority decision in one of the biggest pay-per-view bouts in MMA history.