UFC star Conor McGregor to fight Nate Diaz at welterweight
New opponent named after injury forces Rafael dos Anjos to pull out of highly anticipated bout
Conor McGregor will fight Nate Diaz at UFC 196 after his scheduled opponent, Rafael dos Anjos, was forced to pull out with a foot injury.
Diaz was named as replacement by the sport's president, Dana White, after what The Guardian calls "a day of frantic shuffling".
But featherweight champion McGregor (pictured above), who was due to fight Dos Anjos in the lightweight division, now faces an even heavier opponent, taking on Diaz as a welterweight.
"Diaz, the 30-year-old from California, is ranked at number five at lightweight (155lbs) but wouldn't have been able to make weight in time so a limit of 170lbs was agreed," explains Sky Sports.
McGregor's camp shrugged off concerns about the weight, pointing out that their man would not need to diet in the run-up to the bout on 5 March.
The decision to fight at welterweight could be a taste of things to come, suggests The Guardian. "McGregor has boasted of his intention to win belts in multiple weight classes and the UFC could be entertaining the possibility of matching McGregor against the welterweight champion Robbie Lawler at its landmark UFC 200 show on 9 July in Las Vegas’ new T-Mobile Arena."
There have been raised eyebrows over the UFC's decision. Diaz has a losing record and has only two weeks to prepare. But he will be a popular choice among followers of the sport, says the Daily Mail.
"Fans see Diaz as a true fighter, not just in the cage but outside of it. He represents the mean streets of Stockton and is partial to a scrap outside of the Octagon. This coupled with his trash talk, usually in the form of intimidating foul-mouthed verbal attacks in his opponents face, makes every Diaz press conference a must-see.
"But above all else it's Diaz's fighting style that really endears the fans to him."
Diaz lived up to his billing as a tough talker, tweeting a warning to McGregor after news of the fight broke.
McGregor will share top billing with Holly Holm, who stunned Ronda Rousey last time out and defends her bantamweight title against Miesha Tate.