Nate Diaz’s life changed with victory over Conor McGregor

To hear Conor McGregor tell it, Nate Diaz was handed a lottery ticket and woke up one day in March a jackpot winner.

Diaz insists there was very little luck involved in the story of a veteran fighter finally becoming a UFC superstar.

He did need McGregor to make his plan come together, however, and now after nearly a decade as a popular character with a crowd-pleasing attitude and fight style, Diaz is a star with a bank account to match.

“It is not thanks to Conor that I got all of it, but I’m going to say that he was a shortcut,” Diaz said in advance of his rematch with McGregor in the main event of UFC 202 on Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena. “I wasn’t following the leader. I was going to get my money regardless, and I was going to get where I’m at regardless, but obviously he was a shortcut to get there.”

The pay-per-view broadcast begins at 7 p.m., with four fights from the preliminary card airing on Fox Sports 1 at 5. The first fight inside T-Mobile Arena begins at 3:30 p.m.

Diaz took note of a major UFC news conference last September when McGregor, the sport’s biggest and highest-paid star, verbally destroyed several fighters who didn’t seem to have an answer to the tirades. The Stockton, California, native realized there was an opening for a foil and decided to try to take advantage.

Before his next fight in December against Michael Johnson, Diaz started pushing himself as a potential McGregor opponent despite the fact he fought in the weight class above the featherweight champion.

Diaz delivered one of his best performances in a win over Johnson and again called out McGregor, referring to himself as “the real money fight.”

It worked. Less than two weeks before McGregor was scheduled to fight Rafael dos Anjos in a lightweight title bout in March, dos Anjos was injured. The squeaky wheel got the grease; Diaz accepted an offer to step in on short notice. He then shocked the world by handing McGregor the first loss of his UFC career via a rear-naked choke in the second round.

There was no turning back after that. Diaz was soon appearing on late-night talk shows and engaging in social-media feuds with Justin Bieber.

“If I was stupid, I wouldn’t be where I’m at,” the 31-year-old said. “I plotted this out.”

A rematch was booked for UFC 200 in July, which was expected to be the biggest event in the organization’s history. That bout fell apart when McGregor and the UFC engaged in a very public battle over media obligations and other issues and the rematch was pulled from the card.

Everything finally was worked out and the rematch was ready to be booked again.

Except that Diaz now had power, too, and he was ready to use it. He had UFC officials fly to Stockton to meet with him. Despite reports of contentious negotiations, he got a new deal and agreed to the rematch.

“I just knew that they wanted it to happen and they needed it to happen,” he said of his negotiating strength. “So I didn’t have thoughts that it wasn’t going to happen. It is part of what I wanted and it worked out.”

McGregor cut him off and took credit for showing Diaz the way in terms of flexing his muscle at the bargaining table.

“I taught the kid well. I taught him well. Get that money,” McGregor said. “You were at ($20,000 to show and $20,000 to win). Now you’re talking the big money. Have respect for that.”

Diaz scoffed.

He was similarly dismissive of the storyline the size differential had a dramatic impact on the outcome of the first fight. Diaz believes it’s just a convenient excuse.

“He’s fought at 145 and 155 pounds throughout his career. I fought 155 and just a couple times at 170,” Diaz said. “I don’t know how all of a sudden I became this monstrous heavyweight against Conor McGregor just because I won the fight.”

He came in at 170.5 pounds on Friday, a half-pound under the welterweight limit in a nontitle fight. McGregor hit the scales at 168.

“I feel I have grown as a fighter,” McGregor said. “I’ve gained some valuable experience. Usually when I go in, I hit them and they go down. That’s it. My division, I kill them. Check my records. When I hit them, they fall.

“It was nice to go in there and face a man that, although he was close to crumbling, he stuck it out and showed his experience and durability.”

Diaz believes the outcome of the first fight is still weighing on McGregor and could impact the rematch, particularly after seeing pictures McGregor hung in his Las Vegas gym of left hands landing on Diaz’s face in the first meeting and hearing McGregor once again predict an early knockout win.

“That’s what he said last time, too,” Diaz said. “He’s either lying to himself or trying to build his confidence and trying to make himself believe it. But he remembers what happened the last time. I think it’s a little silly. He’s got pictures of himself punching me up in his garage. What the (expletive)? Who does that?

“When he goes to sleep at night, he remembers what happened the last time.”

So does Diaz, and with good reason. It changed his life. It hasn’t removed the chip from his shoulder, however.

Diaz believes the UFC will be rooting against him in the rematch in hopes they can once again push him to the background, but he insists he won’t let it happen.

“I got too big not to be heard,” he said.

Imagine how loud he’ll get if he can do it again.

Contact reporter Adam Hill at or 702-224-5509. Follow on Twitter: @adamhilllvrj

Covering The Cage Videos
Covering The Cage: Rose Namajunas Retains Title
Covering the cage hosts Adam Hill and Heidi Fang go over Rose Namajunas retaining the Women's strawweight title.
Covering The Cage: Changes To UFC 223 Fight Card
Covering The Cage host Heidi Fang and Adam Hill go over changes to the UFC 223 fight card including Khabib Nurmagomedov's new opponent.
Covering The Cage: Conor McGregor Posted $50,000 Bail
Covering The Cage hosts Heidi Fang and Adam Hill go over Conor McGregor in facing three misdemeanor chargers and posting $50,000 bail.
Covering The Cage: Conor McGregor Court Appearance
Covering the Cage host Adam Hill and Heidi Fang go over the recent developments of Conor McGregor.
Covering The Cage Facebook Live - March 29,2018
Review-Journal reporters Adam Hill and Heidi Fang talk UFC 223 live via. SKYPE with Ufc Interim Lightweight Champion Tony Ferguson on his main event clash with number 1 contender Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Covering the Cage: UFC 222 recap
Adam Hill and Heidi Fang discuss UFC 222
Covering The Cage: UFC 222 Recap
Covering The Cage hosts Adam Hill and Heidi Fang go over the main card fights including Cris Cyborg keeping her title, Bryan Ortega's win over Frankie Edgar and Sean O'Malley fighting through an injury.
UFC 222: Fight Preview
Covering the cage hosts Adam Hill and Heidi Fang provide a preview for UFC 222 as well as their predictions.
Covering The Cage: UFC 222 Preview
Review-Journal reporters Adam Hill and Heidi Fang go over the top fights to watch for at UFC 222 including Cris Cyborg and Brian Ortega.
Covering The Cage: Live Interview With Elias Theodorou
Covering The Cage host Heidi Fang talks with Elias Theodorou to preview UFC on Fox and becoming a ring boy.
Covering the Cage: Roy Nelson interview
Adam Hill and Heidi Fang talk about the world of MMA as well as interview heavyweight Roy Nelson.
Covering the Cage: Feb. 6 Facebook Live
Adam Hill and Heidi Fang discuss UFC Fight Night 125 as well as preview UFC 221 and UFC 222.
Covering The Cage: Ronda Rousey joins WWE; UFC on Fox 27 recap
Review-Journal reporters Adam Hill and Heidi Fang discuss Ronda Rousey’s move to WWE and recap UFC on Fox 27.
Covering the Cage: Jordan Rinaldi, UFC on Fox 27 preview
Review-Journal reporters Adam Hill and Heidi Fang talk to fighter Jordan Rinaldi about his upcoming fight and preview the rest of UFC on Fox 27.
Covering The Cage Live: UFC 220 and Bellator 192 Recap
Review-Journal reporters Adam Hill and Heidi Fang recap UFC 220 and Bellator 192.
Art Bell’s Top 10 Shows
A selection of radio host Art Bell’s most popular shows.
Calvary Christian Learning Academy, “There was no fair warning.”
Samantha O’Brien, whose three-year-old daughter attended the Calvary Christian Learning Academy daycare, found out Monday night when her daughter’s teacher called about the school closing.
Companies bet their futures on cryptocurrency
Two Las Vegas entrepreneurs talk about finding their niche in blockchain enabled technologies and digital currency.
Solar panels reduce energy bill for CCSD
Wilbur and Theresa Faiss Middle School is one of 42 CCSD schools with solar panel installations, saving approximately $514,000 per year in energy costs.
News Headlines
Local Spotlight
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like