The fight between Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz that headlined UFC 196 was such a resounding success — for the UFC, if not for McGregor himself — that the company wasted no time setting up a rematch. The pair will square off again on July 9, as the main event at UFC 200.
The UFC announced the news on Wednesday, confirming what had been widely rumored, in a move meant to capitalize on the interest in the pair’s first meeting earlier in March, as well as to give the popular McGregor a shot at redemption. Diaz handed McGregor his first loss in UFC action by submitting the Irishman via a choke hold in the second round, the capper to an event that set company records for pay-per-view buys.
Much of the interest in that contest, apart from McGregor’s ability to draw fans with his trash-talking and striking skills, stemmed from his attempt to leap all the way up to 170 pounds, after having only fought at 145 pounds in his UFC career. McGregor is the champion at that lower weight, but with him fighting again at 170, UFC 200 will also feature a battle for the interim featherweight crown between Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar.
That will serve as a consolation prize of sorts for Aldo and Edgar, both of whom had been clamoring to take on McGregor. In Aldo’s case, he was looking for revenge, given that McGregor set a UFC record by knocking him out in just 13 seconds to win the featherweight title at UFC 194 in December. Aldo defeated Edgar by unanimous decision in a 2013 bout.
With the UFC celebrating its 200th large-scale promotion at a brand-new arena in Las Vegas, the company has assembled a star-studded card for the event. In addition to McGregor-Diaz and Aldo-Edgar, here are the other fights that have been confirmed: Cain Velasquez vs. Travis Browne, Diego Sanchez vs. Joe Lauzon, Gegard Mousasi vs. Derek Brunson, Johny Hendricks vs. Kelvin Gastelum and Takanori Gomi vs. Jim Miller.
Thus far, there is no women’s match slated for UFC 200, largely because Ronda Rousey, still recovering from her stunning knockout loss to Holly Holm at UFC 193 in November, has indicated that she won’t be ready to return to the Octagon by then. It is still possible that Miesha Tate, who defeated Holm at UFC 196, could appear on July’s card, possibly in a rematch with Holm.
McGregor had been slated to take on lightweight title holder Rafael dos Anjos at UFC 196 in a rare quest to hold two belts at once, but the Brazilian 155-pound champ injured a foot just 11 days before the fight. That forced to the UFC to substitute Diaz, at the relative last minute and at an even higher weight.
For July’s rematch, both McGregor and Diaz will have an opportunity to train specifically to fight each other, after neither was fully prepared the first time. McGregor reportedly was offered the chance to face Diaz at the latter’s usual fighting weight of 155, but he insisted on remaining at 170, in order to be able to say that he avenged his loss (if that is how it turns out) without requiring a change in circumstance.