Thursday 8 December 2016

Revealed: How John Kavanagh and Dana White tried to talk Conor McGregor out of Diaz rematch

Jack de Menezes

Published 31/03/2016 | 08:10

Nate Diaz applies the winning choke hold to Conor McGregor during their fight at UFC 196 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena Photo: Rey Del Rio/Getty Images
Nate Diaz applies the winning choke hold to Conor McGregor during their fight at UFC 196 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena Photo: Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

UFC president Dana White has revealed that widespread attempts to persuade Conor McGregor not to push for a rematch with Nate Diaz at UFC 200 failed, despite his own coach joining the chorus of voices trying to change his focus from facing the only man to beat him in the Octagon.

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The UFC confirmed on Wednesday night that Irishman McGregor and American Diaz will face each other once again on 9 July, just three months after Diaz claimed a shock second round victory via submission at UFC 196 to hand McGregor his first loss with the company.

Despite announcing that the rematch had been agreed, White revealed that he tried to talk McGregor into dropping back down to featherweight to defend the championship he still holds, or at least push for the Diaz rematch to be at the lightweight limit of 155lbs.

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White was not the only voice in opposition to McGregor’s demands, as UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta was also against the Diaz rematch as well as the Dublin fighter’s coach, John Kavanagh.

“After the fight, Lorenzo and I went up to Conor’s house that he’s renting here in Las Vegas and started talking about what are you thinking, what’s next?,” White said on ESPN’s SportsCenter.

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“And he was obsessed – obsessed – with fighting Nate Diaz again. Obviously, Lorenzo and I tried to argue with him and say, ‘Let’s go back down to [1]45 and defend your title, or if you really want the Diaz fight that bad, do it at [1]55.’

“But he wants to fight at 170. Even his coach, Kavanagh, tried to get him to get off this rematch and off the 170-pound fight, but it’s what he wanted. And he’s going to get it.”

Options for McGregor included a featherweight rematch against Jose Aldo – the man he beat at UFC 193 to win the championship in just 13 seconds – or a first encounter against the in-form Frankie Edgar.

However, it’s also been confirmed that Aldo and Edgar will fight on the same night at UFC 200 for the interim featherweight championship, with the winner expected to face McGregor in the near future.

“Conor McGregor is a guy who has had fights fall out seven days before he’s supposed to defend his title, and he steps up and takes on all comers,” added White. “The guy fights anybody, anywhere, any time. He’s stepped up on late notice and done these things. He wants this Nate Diaz fight, we’ll give it to him.

“We’ll make Frankie and Jose the interim title, and whoever wins that fight will fight Conor McGregor for the 145-pound title. Win, lose or draw in this fight against Nate Diaz, he will go in and fight either Jose or Frankie – whoever wins at [UFC] 200.”

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