UFC 202 didn’t disappoint in the promotion’s first event since officially being sold to WME-IMG for $4 billion.
In a rematch of Nate Diaz’s welterweight victory over Conor McGregor, the Irishman got his revenge on Saturday, taking a majority decision. The three judges were damn close to unanimous in their decisions, all giving Rounds 1, 2, and 4 to McGregor, and Rounds 3 and 5 to Diaz. One judge, Jeff Mullen, awarded Diaz a 10-8 victory in the third, leaving the final scores at 48-47, 47-47, and 48-47.
As was the case in their first matchup at UFC 196, McGregor came out strong early before suffering his first ever loss. Only this time, instead of trying to end the fight in the middle rounds, he didn’t leave himself vulnerable to the bigger Diaz, going the five-round distance.
“I knew he would have success early,” Diaz said. “Just as I expected, he was going to slow down and I was going to speed up.”
Despite relentless trash talk that came to an eruptive boil in a pre-fight press conference, the pair of fighters displayed respect for one another after the battle, hugging in the octagon.
Almost immediately, both combatants started talking rubber match.
“I came to this fight worse off than last time. I didn’t get to train. I had injuries. I’m not making excuses, but you should have finished me off,” Diaz said. “I’m ready for [No. 3]. I gave you [No. 2].”
McGregor, the lightweight champion at 145 pounds, said he wants their third bout to be fought closer to his preferred fighting weight than the 170 of the first two fights.
“All I know is that it’s 1-1,” McGregor said. “I came up to 170 to test the bigger man, face adversity. I want the trilogy, but it’s on my terms. Come back to 155. Let’s do it.”
Most of Diaz’s career fights have come at the 155-pound limit.
But promotion president Dana White indicated that the matter of McGregor’s featherweight title might interrupt the trilogy.
“Conor has to defend his title or make a decision to give it up or whatever he wants to do,” White said. “I don’t know. I’ve got to sit down and see what’s next. If I was Conor, I’d defend my title.”
Either way, White seemed pleased with what is in early contention for the fight of the year.
“I didn’t see that fight going five rounds, and it did,” he said. “One minute, it looked like Conor was gassed, and he got a second wind. Diaz got dropped a couple of times, it looked like he was done, and he came back. It was an absolute epic fight.”