Nate Diaz steps in to face Conor McGregor at UFC 196

New fixture has been confirmed for UFC 196

Conor McGregor at his Vegas victory
Top dog Conor McGregor celebrates another victory. Image Picture Steve Marcus/Getty Images

The fight has been made.

Conor McGregor will face Nate Diaz at UFC 196 in a welterweight bout, after lightweight champ Rafael Dos Anjos pulled out because of a broken foot.

Speculation was rife as to whom McGregor would be facing, and even if The Notorious was even going to take a fight on.

Dana White was a guest on ESPN SportsCentre last night and confirmed that Diaz will step into the octagon on March 5th for a non-title bout, but also revealed that some big names turned down the fight.

He told ESPN: “We called Jose Aldo; Jose Aldo turned the fight down.

“We called Frankie Edgar; Frankie Edgar turned the fight down. Those are two guys everybody was talking about. A lot of guys wanted this fight, but we ended up with Nate Diaz. We felt this was the fight to make and the fight the fans wanted to see.”

This means that McGregor will be moving up two weight classes, from featherweight (145lbs) where he is the reigning champion, to welterweight (170lbs) instead of one to lightweight at 155lbs – which could propel him into the much-rumoured fight later on in the year with welterweight champion Robbie Lawler.

McGregor and Diaz don’t have a particularly warm relationship to date, with McGregor being less then complimentary about his opponent when speaking about him in the past.

He said: “I heard Nate Diaz couldn’t even afford the flight over to Las Vegas for the ceremony. Stop holding bitterness deep in your bum soul. Stuck on $20,000 to show and $20,000 to fight. I wipe my ass with that money. I tip your wage, Nate, yeah.”

But according to MMA journalist Ariel Helwani, Diaz is already 1-0 up on McGregor after the first stand off resulted in Diaz standing firm in his demands to want the fight at 165lb where McGregor and his team wanted the fight at 160lb.

The Irish fighter finally relented and told the UFC he would fight at 170lb.

Next Saturday will be certainly feisty.

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Loaded sports writer Pearse Corcoran has covered news, sport and entertainment for several national newspapers and radio stations in Ireland. Follow him on Twitter at @PearseCorcoran

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