After Rafael dos Anjos withdrew from his lightweight title fight against Conor McGregor, the UFC announced his replacement will be Nate Diaz. While the opponent doesn’t come as much of a surprise, the weight division they will be fighting at certainly does.
McGregor was already moving up to the 155-pound division to take on dos Anjos, but the fight against Diaz will be a welterweight bout (170 pounds). It’s an unprecedented 25-pound jump from McGregor’s latest fight against Jose Aldo in December, but the Irishman has remained confident.
UFC President Dana White was completely honest in discussing the upcoming match, saying he reached out to Aldo and Frankie Edgar before offering it to Diaz. After Aldo and Edgar both declined, Diaz was granted the co-main event bout on March 5.
Diaz has made it widely known that he would like to fight McGregor, most notably during this profanity-laced tirade after his latest victory:
McGregor and Diaz is a showdown of two of the best trash talkers in UFC history, but lacks the title implications the dos Anjos fight offered. Many expected McGregor to at least be fighting for an interim title belt against dos Anjos’ replacement – much like he did last July against Chad Mendes – but this one is solely for pride.
Las Vegas has made McGregor a heavy favorite (-360), while Diaz is in his familiar underdog position (+300). It remains to be seen if McGregor can compete in the 170-pound division, but one thing is certain – this fight is going to be a ferocious brawl.