Despite the decisiveness of Nate Diaz' victory against Conor McGregor at UFC 196, there is still a lot buzz surrounding the rematch at UFC 202.
McGregor, who knocked out Jose Aldo to seize the featherweight title last year, was submitted by Diaz in the second round after desperately shooting for a takedown. The Irishman had success in the opening round, landing heavy left hands and utilizing good head movement, but seemed to fatigue heavily during the second. It was then that Diaz, a master of preserving energy, noticed his exhaustion and began to find his rhythm with a series of combinations. The Californian had turned McGregor into the panic grappler he'd always mocked, handing the SBG Ireland fighter his first defeat inside the Octagon and humbling scores of fans in the process.
Speaking at a media event to promote coach John Kavanagh's book "Win or Learn", The Notorious was brimming with confidence and claimed he'll toy with Diaz in the rematch.
"I'm feeling very confident in myself that I'll go in and I'll toy with this man," McGregor said, per Marc Raimondi of MMA Fighting. "Eight minutes of the fight, I was toying with him. That fadeaway left hand that he caught me with, my senses were still there. It was almost like a fatigue thing that my balance was gone.
"I always look back and question and say, what would have happened if I would have just weathered the storm? He was one or two shots being done, I feel. I feel when that left hand hit, he got this burst of energy. You can see it in his corner, they went insane. It was like they won the lotto. Then I took a couple shots and I shot [for a takedown] and I ended up in that guillotine and then it was just downhill from there. I wonder what would have happened if I just kept my hands up, I kept circling, took the smacks and survived. Eventually his energy that he gained from that left-hand shot would have dipped again and then round three would have began. There's a lot of questions and stuff I'm confident I can improve next time. I'm going in here confident that I will get this rematch back."
The 27-year-old was originally supposed to challenge Rafael dos Anjos for the lightweight title at UFC 196, but the Brazilian was forced to pull out with a broken foot. McGregor then accepted the Diaz fight at welterweight, which marked uncharted territory for the former two-division Cage Warriors champion.
In the lead-up to the fight, McGregor joked about eating two steaks a day but says that mindset could have cost him the fight. According to McGregor, his body almost 'went into shock' when Diaz was announced as the new opponent.
"My body almost went into shock and I was stuffing my face and eating everything," he said. "I was almost like, I don't have to make weight, I can train all day long. So we were doing 6-to-8-hour sessions on fight week, swinging on gymnastic rings. Looking back, it wasn't the best idea and it came back and bit me in the ass."
Diaz vs. McGregor II, which is to be contested at welterweight, headlines the UFC 202 pay-per-view at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada on August 20.