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Conor McGregor-Nate Diaz rivalry deserving of third fight

Conor McGregor: “Surprise, surprise, mother (bleeper)! The King is back!”

Nate Diaz: “They can’t have a mother (bleeper) like me win. I’m too real for this sport.”

Good heavens. This was so much better than water bottles.

The sale of the Ultimate Fighting Championship became official this past week, and Lorenzo Fertitta was thrown a going-away party by company employees — what do you get a guy who just cashed out for $4 billion? — meaning those from talent agency WME-IMG sat in T-Mobile Arena on Saturday and witnessed the absolute best of their newfound investment.

Memo to the suits: It isn’t always this good.

Few matchups reach the epic stage of combat sports, but that’s exactly where the McGregor-Diaz rivalry now exists.

A news conference on Wednesday when McGregor and his crew engaged in a water bottle-throwing fight with Diaz and his team was followed by a memorable rematch that only left those watching starving for a third edition.

McGregor avenged his second-round loss to Diaz in March by winning a majority decision that was both correct in its assessment and accurate in how close things were.

It was a heck of a bloody brawl.

Crazy. As loud and brash as the buildup was, McGregor actually took control of the fight with a calm, collected, disciplined approach. He was expertly prepared, using countless leg kicks to keep his distance from Diaz and not enter into the danger zone of allowing things to get to the ground.

But he’s the 145-pound champion for a reason, and 170 pounds wears on him. I’m certain there is a treadmill at McGregor’s gym, but even logging consistent miles hasn’t stopped him from being gassed in both fights against Diaz.

In March, that was enough for the latter to win via a rear-naked choke.

It wasn’t this time.

If you spend the money WME-IMG did to purchase the UFC, you obviously employ some smart folks when it comes to making a buck, and it shouldn’t take much intelligence to figure out how big a third fight between the two could prove.

Massive. Epic. A triology that must be made, at 170 or 155 or whatever weight the sides can agree upon.

Just fight again.

Other views from UFC 202 …

HOLY ^%^#^!

You mean there was a co-main event?

Yes, and it lasted about as long as people talked about the fight leading into the card.

What with the hype and trash talking and flying objects at the shortest news conference in UFC history this past week, Anthony Johnson against Glover Teixeira at light heavyweight received about as much attention as Skip Bayless sitting among a plethora of stars Saturday.

Which is to say not much, although the loud boos when Bayless was shown on the video screen at least woke up the arena.

This is why many believe Johnson has the most impressive knockout power in the UFC: His right uppercut 13 seconds into the first round floored Teixeira, who was so out of it, he tried to wrestle the referee when attempting to get up after the fight had been called.

“I want to thank (Teixeira) for being professional and showing the world we can be professional after all the stuff at the press conference,” Johnson said. “We don’t need all that talking to get a knockout. We just do it. I can fight coming forward. I can fight going backward. I can just fight, man.”

It’s assumed Johnson will next get champion Daniel Cormier, whom he lost to via submission last year. But there are also rumors about the impending suspension of Jon Jones, who tested positive for a banned substance the week of UFC 200.

Many are saying Jones will face much less than two years.

Personally, hearing whispers about what Jones might claim to have taken that triggered the positive result, I’m hoping like anything he does so and isn’t suspended at all.

It could make for one of the all-time great column opportunities.

SCALE MINDED

Cowboy is taking to this 170-pound stuff.

Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone is 3-0 at welterweight after knocking out Rick Story at 2:02 of the second round. A left, right kick to the body and shot to the head ended things.

But it doesn’t mean Cerrone is ready to stop riding that roller coaster back down to 155 pounds, that journey to cutting weight that becomes tougher and tougher each time he fights at lightweight.

“If I had to make a choice, I’d stay at 170 because I walk around at 176 and really don’t have to diet to cut,” Cerrone said. “It’s definitely (bleeping) easier. I’m a fighter. I don’t really give a (bleep), but getting to 155 is a lifestyle change, man. Those final 5 pounds are brutal. You definitely find your devil.”

He obviously wants to see that specific image of Lucifer again, given Cerrone after disposing of Story called out lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez, whom Cowboy beat via unanimous decision in 2014.

I suppose that means Cerrone is headed back down the roller coaster and will make fewer visits to Smashburger, which he enjoyed this past week awaiting Saturday’s fight.

Story also knows about cutting weight. He once dropped 22 pounds in 18 hours.

“There are no follow-up questions needed for that story,” he said.

None of which we would want to know the answer.

Ed Graney can be reached at egraney@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4618. He can be a heard on “Seat and Ed” on Fox Sports 1340 from 2 to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. On Twitter: @edgraney.

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