Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz's much-rumoured rematch at UFC 200 on July 9 appears set to go ahead after a report contracts have already been issued to both fighters.
MMA reporter Ariel Helwani hosted Monday's edition of the MMA Hour, where he said the two combatants will meet under the same conditions as their first clash at UFC 196 (h/t Stephen Barry of the Irish Examiner):
It’s not happening at a more natural 155 pounds. It’s happening at 170 pounds. The contracts are already out there and that’s what they want. Make no mistake about it, the reason why this is happening at 170 pounds is because, to be frank, Conor McGregor is a bit of a wildman.
He is obsessed with the idea that he lost to Nate Diaz at 170 pounds, he feels like he should have won and he wants the same circumstances, the same rules, the same stipulations. He wants to do it again and prove that he is the better man.
The Notorious suffered his first Ultimate Fighting Championship defeat in sensational fashion after Diaz submitted him at UFC 196, and he now appears in line for a shot at redemption.
That seems to mean leaving no doubt amid plenty of criticism, and beating Diaz at the same weight as before. UFC bantamweight Urijah Faber recently told TMZ he agreed to fight McGregor before his old Ultimate Fighter rival took on Diaz and "got whooped":
While McGregor's determination to succeed at a weight two divisions above his comfort zone is admirable, he runs the risk of losing back-to-back fights for the first time in his career.
The Dubliner was initially scheduled to fight lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos at UFC 196, but a foot injury ruled out the Brazilian, who claimed a rematch between McGregor and Diaz "make [sic] no sense":
Rafael dos Anjos @RdosAnjosMMA
@UFCONFOX Mcgregor vs Diaz 2 make no sense, I would beat theses 2 guys on the same night2016-3-18 21:56:46
For McGregor and Diaz, it makes a whole lot of financial sense. ESPN.com's Brett Okamoto quoted Diaz saying he wanted "whatever is biggest" for his next bout. Potential names included Georges St-Pierre, Dos Anjos and Robbie Lawler, but a McGregor rematch tops the billing.
The featherweight division's top guns have been actively campaigning for The Notorious to come back and defend his UFC title, with Jose Aldo looking for a rematch and Frankie Edgar hoping to get his shot at the Irishman:
Jose Aldo Junior @josealdojunior
I want it. You want it. Your coach wants it. One battle took place but the war is not over! #UFC200 https://t.co/kslOseYIQD2016-3-21 20:22:42
Frankie Edgar @FrankieEdgar
What do u say @thenotoriousmma? Balls in your court, Now lets see who has a Vagina @robdrake @ShoreShot @HiHoRecords https://t.co/x33DVzTqHH2016-3-16 01:38:25
However, McGregor is intent on breaking boundaries in the sport.
Soon after his first UFC defeat March 5, McGregor expressed his desire for a rematch with Diaz and told TMZ he'd be back "with a vengeance," (h/t David St. Martin of MMAFighting.com):
I'm ready to go again. I had a great time. It was a good fight, a hell of a fight. I look forward to coming back with a vengeance.
I think I'd like to see that, yea? I mean, it's one that interests me, most certainly. You know, when I look at the fight, I was winning the fight. I won the first round and a half, I feel. I'd love to get that one back. We'll see how it goes. Money talks. Life is good.
Rather than force Diaz to drop down and come closer to his more natural weight, 5'9" McGregor wants to earn what he sees as lost respect. He lost at the higher weight to a volume puncher in Diaz, so he'll want to erase that loss as soon as possible.
Both fighters will have advantages this time around, too, as McGregor is given more time to settle at welterweight while Diaz enjoys a full training camp, potentially making for a much different second encounter.