Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz could be on course to renew their rivalry later this year following the booking of Tony Ferguson vs Justin Gaethje, McGregor and Diaz, 31 and 35 respectively, took part in two of the most memorable fights in recent UFC history in 2016.
Diaz spectacularly claimed victory in the pair’s first meeting in the main event of UFC 196, registering a second-round submission on 11 days’ notice.
McGregor avenged his first loss inside the Octagon a few months later at UFC 202, edging a five-round war via majority decision.
Ever since their rematch – which many believe should’ve been scored a draw – fans have been clamouring for the pair to have a trilogy fight.
And following the booking of Ferguson vs Gaethje, which is due to headline UFC 249 on May 9, ESPN’s Ariel Helwani believes the path for McGregor vs Diaz III has been paved.
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Let’s go, Nathan. Let’s go, brother. Number three.
Conor McGregor on a trilogy fight with Nate Diaz
“If Tony Ferguson vs. Justin Gaethje actually happens on May 9, I feel like Nathan Diaz will be the big winner,” Helwani wrote in his weekly column. “How so? Well, let’s say Ferguson beats Gaethje.
“That should guarantee a Ferguson-Khabib Nurmagomedov fight in the fall, right?
“It would also knock Gaethje out of a top rankings spot. Who was Gaethje supposed to fight in July? Conor McGregor.
“No chance they do that fight if Gaethje is coming off a loss, right? OK, what if Gaethje wins, you ask? Then he fights Nurmagomedov, right? Again, freeing up McGregor.
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“Now, in this scenario, they could do Ferguson vs. McGregor, but I also feel like either May 9 scenario opens the door to make the trilogy fight between Diaz and McGregor.
“So, if May 9 actually happens, don’t be surprised if Diaz emerges as a player in the McGregor sweepstakes.”
One man who agrees with Helwani’s prediction is former middleweight champion Michael Bisping, who recently said: “Conor’s next fight will be Nate Diaz 3, that’s my guess, that’s my semi-educated non-circle of trust guess.
“That’s me throwing s*** at a wall and seeing what sticks. He was talking about Nate Diaz, and Nate Diaz 3 will do big business.”
McGregor entertained the prospect of a rubber match with Diaz after his 40-second demolition of Donald Cerrone in January, saying: “Let’s go, Nathan.
“Let’s go, brother. Number three. It’s always here. So we’re right here, Nathan.”
McGregor, 22-4 is hoping to return to his active ways in 2020, setting his sights on two more outings.
Diaz’s immediate plans are unclear, although he did hint he’d be taking an extended break from the sport after his third-round TKO loss to Jorge Masvidal last November.
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