Conor McGregor’s Stock is at its Lowest for Five Years… Is it True That Nate Diaz is Now More Popular With Fans Than ‘The Notorious?’
There was a time where Conor McGregor could tell the UFC what he wanted and they’d do it without a question. Now that’s changed and a lot of it is the fault of ‘The Notorious.’ Not all of it – the ESPN deal has also reduced his significance – but there’s no doubt that McGregor has tainted his significance.
When McGregor soared onto the scene it was a major cultural moment for the sport of MMA. We had never seen anything like the support that he carried over from his native Ireland nor heard a fighter speak in the confident way that he did. His rivalry with Nate Diaz arguably brought the best out of both men.
However, is it now the case that Diaz has eclipsed McGregor in terms of popularity with MMA fans? After the way he came back and said all the right things after beating Anthony Pettis, there’s a strong argument to be made that Diaz is the man that diehard fans are now behind and that McGregor’s sun has finally set.
There’s always been the feeling that the Diaz brothers, especially Nick, have been underpromoted by the UFC. They’ve openly clashed with the promotion but became cult heroes at the same time. And if you’ve any doubt about how popular Nate is, you just needed to stand in the foyer of the Honda Center in Anaheim, California during UFC 241. There were more Diaz fans than for every other fighter on the card combined.
Diaz played it perfectly, putting on a great performance against Anthony Pettis and then keeping it real by calling out his fellow man of the people Jorge Masvidal. This was a great shout by Diaz. It’s a fight he could get and win, and get the fans excited. It’s also about who is the toughest and most real. This is the perfect match-up for him.
Brendan Schaub summed up McGregor’s current state on his ‘Below the Belt’ podcast. He discussed the recent state of affairs with McGregor and how the Irishman has just gone too far. Schaub believes that Nate Diaz is now the man that fans feel like they can relate to and get behind. His comeback win over Anthony Pettis only added fire to the fuel.
“I think now because what Conor’s doing we’re all like, ‘alright man, we’re out,’” Schaub said, per Fernando Quiles Jr. of MMA News. “And then Nate Diaz somehow gone from heel to [face] and we’re like, we’re rooting for him. We want him to get paid, we want to see him fight big fights. Yeah you’re kinda like, ‘holy f*ck. Nate Diaz is the good dude here.’ Just because what Conor, all the shenanigans he’s done. And for me to go, ‘dude I can’t defend you’ is a truckload.”
If we’re talking about the numbers game, then McGregor still wins. He’d definitely bring in a load of casuals to watch him fight – even if it’s just in the hope he loses. But if we’re talking about dedicated MMA fans, it’s fair to say that Diaz has recaptured our hearts. He might talk a bit crazy but he backs it up by getting into the cage and not punching old men in bars.
The formula to popularity isn’t really that difficult, is it?