Conor McGregor jumps two UFC weight classes to take on Nate Diaz
UFC featherweight champ Conor McGregor's bid to make history by becoming the promotion's first simultaneous dual weight world champion is on hold, for now. News broke on Monday that McGregor's super-fight on March 5 with current lightweight title holder Rafael dos Anjos had been scratched, with the Brazilian suffering a broken foot in training camp.
With less than two weeks to go until McGregor's headline appearance at UFC196, fans' fears that the enigmatic Dubliner would also be pulled from the keenly promoted card have been allayed. Tough talking Gracie Ju-jitsu black belt Nate Diaz has answered the call to face MMA's hottest property on short notice - at welterweight.
UFC President Dana White announced the news, stating: "We figured that this was the most exciting fight. It's one that Conor really wanted, that Diaz wanted - well, a lot of people want to fight Conor McGregor. We felt that this was the fight to make."
McGregor facing an opponent re-shuffle at the proverbial eleventh hour is nothing new, with Jose Aldo famously withdrawing from their summer blockbuster last year due to a rib injury. The fact that Diaz has received the nod on this occasion from the UFC President has come as no surprise to industry insiders.
Known for his love of trash talking and staying in good shape outside of fight camp Diaz is an ideal dance partner as McGregor again leads the promotion's Pay Per View charge.
Whilst the rumour mill went into overdrive as to who would step up to challenge the UFC's poster-boy, one thing was clear: McGregor needed to remain on the card. With eye watering PPV sales and a natural talent for promotion the crossover star has become the money fight in mixed martial arts. Indeed this week the Crumlin native was unveiled as the first Irishman on the cover of iconic sports magazine 'Sports Illustrated'.
John Kavanagh's prized pupil has stated his intent to contest both the UFC lightweight and welterweight titles in the world's premier martial arts promotion. Diaz ,though, will provide a stern test of McGregor's ability to successfully translate his movement based skill-set into higher weight divisions.
With a new opponent in place and all eyes upon him the 27-year-old former apprentice plumber appears undaunted about the challenge that lies ahead, tweeting:
"God bless this hard work. I don't care about weight divisions. I'll run through everyone on the roster"