Only one fight matters now for Nate Diaz, and it’s the same showdown that probably should have happened five years ago anyway.
Diaz has remained knotted 1-1 with UFC superstar Conor McGregor for half a decade now, and he’s been stuck in that purgatory for way too long. Heck, we’ve all been stuck there way too long. It’s time to make the fight.
Diaz suffered a defeat to welterweight contender Leon Edwards at UFC 263 on Saturday. The UK-based welterweight star dominated the fight until the very last round when Diaz badly hurt him with a vicious punch. But Edwards survived that moment, and all three scorecards were totaled at the end 49-46 for Edwards.
But it was never about Edwards for the 36-year-old from Stockton, California.
Heck, it was never about any other top 170-pound fighter in the world.
It was always just about Diaz.
He’s been one of the biggest superstars in the sport for years now, and he’s so popular that it almost confounds reason that he’s not met McGregor inside the Octagon again in over five years.
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Diaz vs. McGregor Remains UFC’s Most Notorious Rivalry
His rivalry with McGregor might already be the most notorious in MMA history.
Diaz beat McGregor by second-round submission at UFC 196 in March 2016, and McGregor won the rematch by majority decision five months later at UFC 202.
Both fights remain listed among the biggest box-office smashes in UFC history. Even though the MMA audience has grown considerably in recent years, the Diaz vs. McGregor rivalry remains near the top of the list of top-selling UFC pay-per-views.
According to Tapology, UFC 196: McGregor vs. Diaz sold over 1.3 million pay-per-views, making it the fourth-biggest fight in UFC history.
The rematch at UFC 202 sold 1.6 million. That’s good for second place on the UFC’s list of top-selling fights.
With both being such riveting showdowns inside the Octagon, with the second fight particularly being one of the top action fights in UFC history, it seems nearly ridiculous that the third fight hasn’t happened yet.
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McGregor Should Be Blamed Over Diaz
Most of the blame should probably be directed toward McGregor.
After all, McGregor is the one that chose to box Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2017 over continuing his UFC career when he was at the top of his game.
But who wouldn’t have done that same thing if given the chance?
Mayweather vs. McGregor sold 4.3 million pay-per-views, making it the second-biggest boxing match in history and way bigger than any UFC fight ever.
McGregor also made more money for himself in that one night of action than he probably ever could make inside an MMA cage.
There’s no shame in that move.
But Diaz vs. McGregor 3 is a fight that could have, should have, and definitely needs to happen before it is lost forever.
That last point is particularly the hardest pill to swallow.
Can You Imagine Boxing Without 1975’s ‘Thrilla in Manila’?
Diaz vs. McGregor 3 might never happen, and that would be a huge mark on the legacy of UFC president Dana White.
Look, White is the most successful promoter in MMA history, and he’s one of the best combat sports architects the world has ever seen.
But how in the world could a combat sports promoter not make the third fight happen?
When asked about it, White has always said things like “that fight will always be there”.
Well, he had better be right because being wrong is a big deal. I mean, imagine if Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier only fought twice and finished their rivalry 1-1. Imagine if there was never a “Thrilla in Manila”.
Besides, do you know how rare it is for a rematch to outsell an original fight? Look at the list of the top-selling fights in UFC and boxing history and judge for yourself.
It simply does not happen, at least with any kind of regularity. And when it does? Look, I’m no expert, but sure seems like the only move to make is to sell it again.
UFC 202 outpaced UFC 196, and there’s good reason to believe the third fight would smash those previous totals as well.
Diaz vs. McGregor 3: Make It Happen
Diaz vs. McGregor 3 is the only fight that matters.
Both superstars remain among the most popular UFC stars on the planet. Their styles match up perfectly together in a way that is almost always sure to deliver top-notch action, and these dudes go back-and-forth at each other on social media so much these days that the promotion for the event has basically already started.
Make. It. Happen.
It’s the only thing that should happen next for both, and I mean that’s the case no matter how the 32-year-old McGregor fares against Dustin Poirier next month at UFC 264.
Did Diaz Already Decline Third Fight This Year?
Judging by the context around his comments earlier this week to Yahoo, Diaz might have actually declined an offer to face McGregor for the third time after the Irishman lost to Poirier at UFC 257 in January.
“They wanted to go out and get knocked out first, and I was like nah, dog. You just got f***** up,” Diaz said.
If that’s the case, it was a mistake.
But it would only be the latest misstep by just about everyone involved in this whole mess that kept the fight from happening.
Maybe McGregor messed things up. Maybe it was White. Or maybe Diaz did by declining the fight earlier this year, too.
But here’s the great thing about this particular mistake: All it takes is one right move to get this thing fixed.
Diaz vs. McGregor 3 is all that matters now. Let’s just hope everyone involved in making the fight happen recognizes it.
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