Sunday 25 February 2018

'I'm going on vacation'- Nate Diaz to shun UFC 200 unless he's fighting Conor McGregor

Nate Diaz. Photo: Mark J. Rebilas / SPORTSFILE
Nate Diaz. Photo: Mark J. Rebilas / SPORTSFILE

Tom Rooney

Unless Dana White and co reverses their decision to remove Conor McGregor from the UFC 200, Nate Diaz has no intention of fighting in Las Vegas on July 9.

Even by MMA’s wacky standards, recent events have made for quite the sideshow. Conor McGregor’s ultimately empty threat of retirement on Tuesday set in motion a chain events the UFC could really have done without.

The Dubliner’s refusal to disrupt his training in Iceland and come to Las Vegas for a mini-press tour to promote UFC 200, compelled the promotion to pull him from a card they had hoped might be their biggest of the year, if not ever.

How quickly the golden boy has turned problem child and, even as said press conference was in progress, White and a gathering of some of the sport’s greatest talents were forced to give their thoughts on the featherweight champion’s latest incendiary tweet.

What’s more, even the long awaited return of the greatest fighter ever has been overshadowed by this needless soap opera. Tonight at UFC 197, former light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones will fight for the first time since he was stripped of his title last year following his arrest for a hit and run incident.

His meeting with Ovince St Preux for the interim crown should be dominating this weekend’s narrative, but McGregor casts a considerable shadow.

Of course, even the UFC wouldn’t deny that, without McGregor, the festivities they are planning for International Fight Week will lack a certain resonance.

Like last year, which culminated in McGregor’s victory over Chad Mendes at UFC 189, the promotion have pencilled in shows on three consecutive nights, two of which contain world title bouts.

A feat White no doubted wanted to discuss at great length yesterday, though he probably never expected to.

In another unforeseen development, it seems as though that the UFC will now have to forge ahead without the other half of their intended headlining bout.

 Nate Diaz was positively affronted when he was told that McGregor’s request for an immediate rematch had been granted.

He argued, plausibly it must be said, that a second round submission - at UFC 196 - left no ambiguity as to who the better man was and, as such, there was zero basis for a sequel.

However, he still signed on the dotted line. It’s easy to see why; he’d be the recipient of another big cheque, the type of cheque he's felt deserving of for many years.

He’s all too aware that McGregor is the only opponent that can guarantee him such a windfall. As such, if the UFC don’t make peace with McGregor and return him to the fray, Diaz is off on holiday.

 “I just came to fight Conor McGregor,” Diaz said. “I don’t really have too much interest in anybody else. I don’t have any interest in fighting at all. But if that’s what we’re going to do, we’re going to do it.”

"I didn't ask for that fight, but he asked for it and he wanted it. If that ain't gonna happen, I'm going on vacation."

This will not have been music to the ears of Dana White, who had only just promised to find Diaz a new opponent.

Since McGregor released a statement on Thursday explaining that he wants to re-dedicate himself to training and forgo the media circus for a time, many fellow pros have vocalised their support.

Diaz, like his brother Nick, openly disdains playing the game. Whether that be talking to the press or feigning his true feelings in any way. It’s exactly why so many love the cantankerous siblings.

As dedicated a trainer as any in the sport, the Californian empathised with McGregor’s position and commended his endeavour.

"He's got a lot of catching up to do, so there ain't no time for this shit. I've been dodging all this for years, I've been in trouble for it. So I understand, it's all good. Let him do his thing, get his train on and get ready to fight. It's all good with me."

Perhaps the duo know something the rest of us don’t, because neither have halted preparations for the apparently scrapped bout.

"I'm training to fight at UFC 200 against Conor McGregor. That's what I'm training for,” Diaz said.

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