Friday 26 April 2019

Nate Diaz’s fight with Dustin Poirier at UFC 230 off amid calls for Conor McGregor and Tony Ferguson to step in

Conor McGregor submitting to Nate Diaz in Las Vegas in 2016. Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images
Conor McGregor submitting to Nate Diaz in Las Vegas in 2016. Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

Jack de Menezes

Fresh from one of the biggest controversies in its history the UFC is facing another difficult decision over their next main card after the co-main event between Nate Diaz and Dustin Poirier was scrapped, according to reports.

ESPN claims that Poirier has been ruled out of the fight with injury, leaving the UFC with little more than three weeks to find a new opponent or pull Diaz from the card altogether.

Diaz was due to return to the Octagon for the first time since losing to Conor McGregor in their rematch in August 2016, but his highly-anticipated comeback is in major doubt unless a new opponent can be found at short notice.

Some fans have called for McGregor to step in and complete one of the UFC’s most famous trilogies, having suffered defeat against Diaz in their first encounter five months before their rematch. But that prospect looks to be out of the question, with McGregor signed off on a medical suspension until 6 November – three days after UFC 230 takes place - due to his injuries from his defeat against Khabib Nurmagomedov at the weekend.

Or maybe not.

That’s because the main event for UFC 230 has finally been confirmed as a heavyweight title bout between defending champion Daniel Cormier and Derrick Lewis – the same Derrick Lewis who fought at the weekend and has been signed off for exactly the same length of time as McGregor.

Lewis will need medical clearance before he is allowed to fight at UFC 230, which takes place at Madison Square Gardens in New York, and it’s not out of the realms of possibility that McGregor could also feature on the card if he wanted to complete the trilogy with Diaz.

So far the UFC, Diaz and Poirier have been hush on the reports of a fight-ending injury to the latter, but UFC president Dana White told the Los Angeles Times that Diaz ““also will not fight on the card”, which look set to scupper the prospect of the American returning to the UFC.

Pushed on the reports, Diaz told ESPN: “I’ll just fight Khabib when he’s ready.”

With uncertainty surrounding the event, confirmation of the Cormier-Lewis encounter has only muddied the waters over how the final card will shape up.

The one likelihood is that McGregor will not be on it. The Irishman has kept relatively quiet – by his standards – in the wake of his defeat, but his coach John Kavanagh tweeted a post that appeared to be in relation to McGregor making a late dash for UFC 230.

Kavanagh said: “Medical suspension folks. But Tony v Nate?”

That is a prospect that could happen, given that Tony Ferguson has not been signed off on medical suspension, leaving him free to fight in New York and a genuine candidate to face Diaz – though whether he would want to face Diaz at the 165lbs catch-weight limit that has been set remains to be seen.

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