Seven years and some change ago, Nate Diaz has hanging out on a yacht and shooting tequila in Mexico, enjoying the spoils of a well-fought win over Michael Johnson a couple months prior. Then, Diaz was offered to fill-in for the injured Rafael dos Anjos to save the UFC 196 pay-per-view (PPV) event by fighting Conor McGregor on just 11 days worth of notice.
It’s important to remember that the McGregor of 2016 was far different from the Irishman we know today. He had just knocked out all-time great Jose Aldo in 13 seconds after tearing his way up the Featherweight division. He was at the height of his powers, an unstoppable and charismatic star intent on domination in two divisions.
Diaz was merely an offering to keep McGregor busy until the Lightweight champion healed up.
The fight began that way, with McGregor bully Diaz around the cage and punishing him with huge connections. However, Diaz has always been able to hang tough in the fire, and McGregor’s stopping power wasn’t quite as devastating to the career Lightweight. By the end of the first, Diaz was bloodied per usual, but at least he was still able to land a couple shots.
It all changed in the second. Diaz found his range just as McGregor started to tire, and suddenly, those famous 1-2s were landing clean! A couple connections stunned McGregor and convinced him to wrestle, but Diaz flipped him over with a guillotine then locked up a rear naked choke.
History written. Superstar born. Legend created.
By defeating McGregor and ending his unbeaten UFC run, Diaz elevated himself from fan favorite to legitimate mega star. He’s only fought every so often since, saving himself for the most high-profile bouts possible. There’s still potential for a trilogy match between Diaz and McGregor, but first, Diaz will have to handle business with Jake Paul.
The two collide tonight (Sat. Aug., 5, 2023) inside American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. It will be one of the biggest nights in combat sports this year, because Nate Diaz is fighting.