Monday 9 December 2019

The date has been set for the first face-to-face meeting of Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz since UFC 196

Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz
Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz

Tom Rooney

Their rematch was supposed to be the centrepiece of International Fight Week in Las Vegas but, instead, Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz will kick-start the MMA annual extravaganza with a comparably deflating press event for UFC 202.

When Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz take the stage at the David Copperfield Theatre at MGM Grand on July 7 and field the media’s questions regarding their upcoming bout, it will be exactly four months to the day since the latter submitted the former in the second round of their main event contest at UFC 196 on the same premises.

Much, much water has passed under the bridge in the interim - most notably, the cancellation of their bout at UFC 200. Indeed, McGregor was pulled from the card in April for refusing to fulfil media obligations and, quite prudently, Diaz instructied his employers not to find him an alternative, less profitable opponent.

The UFC soon engaged in some worthwhile diplomacy and negotiation with each man, and secured their participation in the much anticipated sequel.

In what promises to be a massively lucrative showcase for the promotion, McGregor and Diaz will headline UFC 202 on August 20 in the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

The fighters have engaged one another from time to time on social media but, largely, hostilities have been kept to a minimum.

The armistice will most certainly come to an abrupt end in the venue named after the illustrious illusionist as they seek to ratchet up the hype machine for a resumption of hostilities that requires no such help.

The duo will have been ensconced in training camps so the opportunity to flex their acerbic tongues will probably be a welcome change of pace, and the media will be provided a year’s worth of juicy headlines.

Later that Thursday evening a run of three consecutive nights of mouth-watering fight cards will commence.

Rafael Dos Santos, who McGregor most surely still wants a crack at, will defend his lightweight crown against the durable Eddie Alvarez at UFC Fight Night 90 in the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

The following evening in the same venue, Joanna Jędrzejczyk will defend her strawweight title against bitter rival Cláudia Gadelha after the fighters they coached on this season’s Ultimate Fighter vie for a UFC contract.

On Saturday comes the jewel in the crown of this audacious undertaking. UFC 200 is among the most stacked fight cards in the promotion’s history and will be headlined by a light heavyweight title bout between Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones.

Frankie Edgar and Jose Aldo will meet for the interim featherweight crown with the winner possibly getting to face McGregor in a reunification match, which will depend on the Dubliner returning to  the bracket.

Also, WWE start Brock Lesnar comes back to MMA for a heavyweight collision with knockout artist Mark Hunt.

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