In the main event of UFC 196, Nate Diaz dropped jaws by slapping a rear-naked choke onto the seemingly unbeatable Conor McGregor. Several months later, in the main event of UFC 202, McGregor got his vengeance, earning a hard-fought majority decision over his American rival.
The result of that second fight, however, was much less decisive than the first. Though McGregor came out on top, he was given all he could handle by Diaz, and very nearly lost his second straight to the same man. In fact, had Diaz performed just fractionally better on fight night, he might well have walked away with the win.
Yet according to Diaz’s coach Richard Perez, who appeared on Monday’s episode of Submission Radio, Diaz was impeded by several injuries at the time of the fight–the reason he didn’t come out on top.
“They were bad,” Perez said of his fighter’s bumps and bruises. “The knee was bad and the ribs were bad because when he hurt his knee, he couldn’t run. So then when it got a little better, he wanted to start sparring. And he’s not in shape because he wasn’t really doing much. You know, you work on a little bit of mitts and you work a little bit of sparring and he got better and better. And then when he got (Alan) Sanchez in there, he went a good four hard rounds and he was doing real good, but he was getting a little tired, and that’s when Sanchez caught him in the rib and that then put him out there for a while.”
Perez later added that if Diaz hadn’t been injured, he not only would have defeated McGregor, but stopped him again.
“I know that if he wouldn’t have been injured, McGregor would have gotten stopped again and Nathan wouldn’t have got hit as much as he did in that first round this last time,” he said. “Because he was really sharp. He was sparring with guys McGregor’s size, really good boxers and he was whooping on them. So that’s why I knew it wouldn’t happen that way. But it did, and it came out as the best fight of the night. But he got cut, you know, and if there would have been another 30 seconds, he would have tapped him out, cause McGregor was ready to go anyway.”
Given the asterisk Perez believes is attached to Diaz’s UFC 202 loss to McGregor, he’s eager to see a tie-breaking rubber match between the two fan favorites.
“[There’s] unfinished business,” he told Submission Radio. “[There needs to be] number three. If I was the UFC, I would say, let’s let this happen. We’re going to make some money off of it, and then have [McGregor] go back to 145.”
Unfortunately, we also know that Diaz, who believes he won the second fight, is not especially keen on a third contest with McGregor.
“It’s whatever to me,” Diaz recently stated on Chael Sonnen’s podcast. “I won the fight. I’m not jumping for joy for round three. I think I beat him twice and it’s 2-0, as far as I’m concerned. If they’re gonna want to do it down the road, I don’t know. I’m not in a hurry.”
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