The UFC finally confirmed what many already knew with the news that Nate Diaz and Conor McGregor will headline UFC 200 on July 9 in Las Vegas. The two fighters made history at UFC 196 in one of the company's most successful events, selling around 1.5 million PPV buys and making over $8 million on the gate, before Diaz put a halt to McGregor's unbeaten run in the UFC by submitting the Irishman in the second round.
With Ronda Rousey's return to the Octagon still unclear, Anderson Silva on a losing run and Georges St-Pierre currently semi-retired, the pressure had been on the UFC to come up with a headliner for this event that lived up to the hype. While initially talk of the immediate rematch didn't go down well, especially at 170 pounds, the closer we get to UFC 200, the more this fight has begun to excite the fans. Having first stepped up in weight in order to fight lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos, only for the Brazilian to pull out with injury, McGregor's desire to become a two-division champion is seemingly less important than avenging his first loss in six years.
While McGregor was the firm favourite at UFC 196 when these two first met, this fight appears to be seen as a much tighter affair with the bookies, with both fighters priced at around $1.91 with the betting odds at the moment. Following two rounds of action in which McGregor started the strongest before being overwhelmed by Diaz later in the fight, it looks as though there are still a lot of punters and fans who feel the Irishman has what it takes to beat one of the UFC's most experienced men.
Rather than return to his more natural weight class of 145-pounds in order to defend his featherweight title, the 27-year old insisted on taking an immediate rematch with Diaz, ignoring the advice of the UFC, his coaches and a large majority of MMA fans around the world. As has been the case with McGregor ever since his arrival in the UFC back three years ago, it would be unwise to write off a man who has literally lived up to all but one of the many promises he has made since bursting on the scene in April of 2013.
McGregor, who knocked out long-time featherweight champion Jose Aldo in just 13 seconds, is under less pressure to return to 145-pounds now that Aldo and Frankie Edgar will compete for the interim belt. But in spite of what happens at UFC 200, McGregor will have to decide whether to continue his wander around weight classes in search of the biggest fights, defend his featherweight title or try and secure that match-up against dos Anjos at 155 pounds.
If he can avenge his defeat to Diaz, all of those options will be available to him. Defeat, however, would take away some of that incredible power McGregor has built up during his UFC career, restricting his options and making it hard for him to pick and choose his own fights in the same way he has been doing.
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