LAS VEGAS (AP) — Now the action finally moves into the octagon.
Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz capped promotion of Saturday's UFC 202 main event this week with an expletive-laden news conference that ended in a bottle-throwing melee. If it's any indication of what their highly anticipated rematch will actually look like, fans will be in for quite the show.
McGregor, the featherweight champion who had a meteoric rise in popularity during a 15-fight winning streak that ended with a loss to Diaz, has said he would finish Diaz off early this time around.
"That's what he said last time," Diaz said. "I think he has a lot of people around him and so he pumps himself up. He's either lying to himself or trying to make himself believe it."
"When he goes to sleep at night, he remembers what happened last time," Diaz said.
During their first fight at UFC 196 on March 5, Diaz weathered a first-round storm from McGregor, absorbing multiple shots and suffering a bloody facial cut. McGregor seemed to have exhausted himself by the second round and Diaz capitalized, dominating McGregor and forcing him to tap out with a rear naked choke. Diaz took the fight on short notice and the two agreed to meet at welterweight.
McGregor had asked for a quick rematch and it was scheduled during the landmark UFC 200 card in July, but McGregor announced he was retiring during the spring and he refused to meet some of the media obligations. He later relented but UFC had dropped him from that card by then.
McGregor (19-3) agreed to meet Diaz (20-10) at welterweight again for the rematch. Win or lose, the Irishman will drop back down to featherweight following this fight.
While Diaz quipped that "they're trying to make an escape route," McGregor said: "The way it all planned out I've got quite a business to handle after this fight. But make no mistake, there will be a trilogy fight down the line."
The co-main event pits former light heavyweight title challengers Anthony Johnson and Glover Teixeira against each other with the winner inching closer to another title opportunity. Johnson lost to current light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier in a title bout last May, but a victory makes it three wins in a row and a likely second shot at a championship. Teixeira lost to then-champion Jon Jones in 2014. A win will give him a four-fight win streak.
In other bouts, Donald Cerrone (30-7) continues his torrid fight pace, matching up against Rick Story (19-8) in a welterweight bout and undefeated bantamweight prospect Cody Garbrandt (9-0) meets Takeya Mizugaki (21-9-2).