After getting tagged as a sacrificial lamb when he agreed to fight the MMA featherweight champ, Nate Diaz had to make sure that he would give his 100% into the fight so as to make his voice heard. His second-round submission win over the Irish champ didn’t come unexpected though.
“I knew I was the superior boxer, the superior martial artist. I have superior jiu-jitsu. Like I said from the beginning, I have the best training partners in the world in every aspect; in boxing, kickboxing, jiu-jitsu, and MMA, so nothing surprised me except that I got hit at all. I think with a full camp I would’ve been flawless. But it’s whatever, I’m not surprised. He got a lot of push. He’s been doing great and he’s got a lot of help behind him. I just wish I had the same push, the same help. I’ve been in this a long time. It’ll be nine years, this is my 25th fight here in the UFC, and I’ve been — in the last few years — curious when this is going to pay off. And I think it’s time now,” Diaz said during the post-fight conference of the night.
Even though the MMA fight was offered to him on an extremely short notice, which was around 11 days before the fight, Diaz revealed that he executed what any fighter would have done inside the cage: to beat the featherweight champ at his own game.
After getting past the rough first round, Diaz was able to land some powerful punches during the second round which rocked McGregor on his feet. After a few more strong shots, Diaz was able to execute a rear-naked choke, which led to McGregor’s loss and ultimately ending the goal of holding two title belts simultaneously.
“I’ve been hit with everything. The hardest stuff by 168-pound fighters. I spar with heavyweight fighters and I’ve been hit with everything, so, he punches hard. He’s a hard-hitting little guy. But (it’s) nothing I’ve never felt before. And I expect if I get hit by anybody, it’s probably going to be hard. But if you ain’t taking me out, you’re going to get taken out. Straight up,” Diaz said.
The epic MMA fight was even more remarkable because of the simple fact that Diaz was supposed to fight McGregor in the first place. The featherweight champ wanted to initially fight Rafael dos Anjos on the lightweight title and be the first ever UFC fighter to hold two belts simultaneously. When dos Anjos had to be pulled out from the fight due to a foot injury, the promotion had find a replacement real quick so as to save the fight schedule.
A few years back, Dana White called Nate Diaz “not a needle mover”. Now that Diaz stepped in to replace dos Anjos, and won the epic fight, Diaz said he couldn’t be happier.
“My fights are always pulling big numbers,” Diaz said. “They always stick me on FOX, for some reason. They were pushing me on those FOX cards, I was bringing more numbers than anybody, but nobody pays attention to that. I got a big following between me and my brother. They come in hard … so I feel like I brought in a lot, and it made the fight a lot more entertaining, a lot more interesting than the dos Anjos fight. I’m at the top, so it’s their call what’s next. We’ll see what happens,” Diaz added.