Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz delivered an instant Fight of the Year candidate at UFC 202 in one of the most physical fights in UFC history.
Not a bad way for the WME-IMG ownership group to kick off the first UFC event under the umbrella. Both McGregor and Diaz had their moments through the intense 25-minute war which left both fighters a bloody mess and had fight fans asking for a trilogy.
Judges Derek Cleary and Jeff Mullen scored the rematch 48-47 for McGregor, and judge Glenn Trowbridge had it a draw, 47-47. Page2sports.com had it a 48-47 in favor for McGregor. The majority decision victory gave McGregor (20-3) the revenge he’s been after since tapping out to Diaz (19-11) in March at UFC 196.
“Surprise, surprise, mother fuckers,” a relieved McGregor said in the ring after the match. “The king is back.”
The “Notorious One” came blazing out the gates using good leg kicks and crisp combinations at a measured pace to control the fight in the opening rounds. McGregor’s power and combinations were so crisp he dropped the bigger and taller Diaz three times in the first two rounds only to let him get back to his feet while he conserved energy.
Diaz, who fights out of Stockton, California, survived the early knockdowns and came back in the third round by out landing the featherweight champion and walking through his punches and kicks. The California native expressed his disbelief about the scorecards after the fight and immediately demanded a trilogy.
“I came to this fight worse off than last time. I didn’t get to train, I had injuries. I’m not making excuses, but you should have finished me off,” he said, directing his remarks at McGregor. “I’m ready for [No. 3]. I gave you [No. 2]”
Just like Diaz, McGregor was just as adamant that a trilogy must happen between the two in the future.
“All I know is that it’s 1-1,” McGregor said. “I came up to 170 [pounds] to test the bigger man, face adversity. I want the trilogy, but it’s on my terms. Come back to 155 [pounds]. Let’s do it.”
UFC president Dana White told SportsCenter afterward that a potential trilogy fight could be complicated by McGregor’s featherweight title. As White and the UFC matchmakers have already relayed to McGregor’s camp he must give interim featherweight champion Jose Aldo a rematch or vacate the belt.
“Conor has to defend his title or make a decision to give it up or whatever he wants to do,” White said. “I don’t know. I’ve got to sit down and see what’s next.
No matter what’s next for McGregor and Diaz, both made it abundantly clear when they touch the Octagon it’s definitely must-see TV