During the verbal jabs and jibes between Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz leading up to March’s UFC 196 headliner, the Irishman prophesied that he would change his adversaries “bum life”.
He also predicted a first-round knockout. But while one premonition was wide of the mark, the other has certainly come to fruition.
Indeed, Diaz’s life has altered dramatically since he choked out the McGregor mystique. Not all of it has been to his advantage, though.
While the Stockton, California native has enjoyed a meteoric ascension into the mainstream consciousness, his victory has also brought about taxing media obligations – ironic for a fighter UFC president Dana White once labelled as not “a needle mover”.
Diaz has emerged as a star in his own right with his raw street-style charm enamouring a wider audience. For some, it’s been a long time coming. The question is, though, while he wasn’t surprised by his triumph, can the same be said for the aftermath?
McGregor was willing to sacrifice a spot on the landmark of UFC 200 card because of the perpetual and incessant media requirements.
After the Diaz defeat he insisted it was necessary to focus on what he does best having “grown complacent”.
And so Diaz has taken the reigns, appearing in recent weeks on McGregor reserved chat show spots like Conan O’Brien and Jimmy Kimmel while the featherweight champion has tucked himself away in a private Las Vegas gym.
In effect, Diaz has faced an interim opponent he’s never taken on before and arguably it has changed the complexion of Saturday’s clash at the T-Mobile Arena.
Initially, Diaz was the hunter. He cried out for his shot at the divisive Irishman and his unscripted call out after dismantling Michael Johnson was genius, eventually swinging the money clash in his direction. He demanded it and he got it.
Now, the script has flipped with McGregor on the assault, desperate to re-run his sole UFC loss.
He is chasing redemption and without the weighty distraction of the media to slow him down this time around, Diaz has become something of a sitting target.
‘Mystic Mac’ is predicting a second-round finish at UFC 202 – the same round he lost in – and should that happen the role reversal will have been rubber stamped.
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