UFC 205 had a number of popular fighters get splashed up on the jumbotron. Conor McGregor's archenemy, Nate Diaz, was not among them despite being in attendance. While Diaz is one of the most popular fighters in the sport today, fans had no way of knowing that the man who submitted McGregor was even in New York last weekend.
Why? According to Diaz, it's because the UFC doesn't want him to steal any of McGregor's shine.
"Why didn't I get tickets to this fight?" he asked ESPN.com's Brett Okamoto. "I said, 'I'll leave him alone. I don't want to fight the guy. Just let me get a seat.' Me and my brother, they didn't want to let either one of us in here...They want to hide me out, I think. Put him on more of a pedestal than they have already. It's whatever though."
The news isn't especially surprising, but it likely isn't just because Diaz proved McGregor to be human back at UFC 196. While the Diaz brothers are among the UFC's most popular competitors, they have been involved in plenty of MMA's less-then-great moments.
Back in August, McGregor and the Diazes famously ended a press conference to promote UFC 202 by throwing bottles of water and cans of Monster at one another, a skirmish which saw McGregor get hit with a hefty fine. Before that, the brothers were involved in an ugly melee with another UFC 205 competitor, Khabib Nurmagomedov, that stretched across the entire Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino.
On top of that, bringing Diaz into MSG could have stoked the fires of a McGregor vs. Diaz 3 matchup. According to Diaz, that's something the UFC is committed to avoiding.
"The UFC knows that's a bad idea for him," he said. He added later:
People question me, 'Hey, when you gonna fight No. 3?' I know that everybody needs to see that. If I'm gonna do something, that's what I'm gonna do, but I'm not begging for it. If anybody should be asking for the fight, it should be him. He's the one that has something to prove.
While the UFC seems to be actively keeping McGregor and Diaz separated at this time, the stars seem to be aligning for a rubber match. McGregor's coach, John Kavanagh, is angling for a trilogy, and there has been a swell of support for that fight among MMA fans.
Both men currently have an open schedule, and there's little doubt that the fight would do huge numbers. The UFC might be avoiding it, but the two seem destined to come together one more time.