Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas, USA TODAY Sports.

Two Years Ago Nate Diaz Stunned the World When He Submitted Conor McGregor at UFC 196…

It’s the two year anniversary of one of the most dramatic nights in UFC history. Conor McGregor fought Nate Diaz at UFC 196. It was the night McGregor experienced his first and only defeat in the UFC and ignited the narrative of one of the most exciting rivalries in MMA.

Of course, it is easy to forget that McGregor and Diaz weren’t even supposed to fight. Originally McGregor was slated to fight lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos. The Irishman was at that time the featherweight champion, having just defeated Jose Aldo in an incredible thirteen seconds.

Victory over dos Anjos would have made him the first man to hold two UFC titles simultaneously. When the Brazilian got injured, McGregor agreed on a deal to fight Nate Diaz on two week’s notice. Incredibly ‘The Notorious’ accepted Diaz’s demands to fight at welterweight, because of the short time period left to cut weight. The night they fought changed the course of the UFC.

Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas, USA TODAY Sports.

Build Up

The buildup to the fight was some of the most dramatic that we’ve ever witnessed. In Diaz, McGregor met his match. Let’s not forget that Diaz is one of the few fighters that the Irishman has openly shown respect towards. He famously said at the pre-fight press conference:

“I do respect Nate, don’t get me wrong. There’s a lot of pussies in this business, and he is not one of them.”

Of course relations between the pair broke down. Diaz accused McGregor of scripting his trash talk and basically was not in the least bit affected by his opponent’s trash talk. The excitement was growing.

Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas, USA TODAY Sports.

A Crazy Fight

The fight itself exceeded expectations. At the time there was an air of invincibility about McGregor. He dominated Diaz on the feet throughout the first rounds, leaving the Stockton native’s face bloody. It all looked like Diaz was going to become the Irishman’s next victim.

However, McGregor didn’t factor in just how tough the Californian is. After having his way in round one, he started to gas out towards the midpoint of the second. The extra weight and heavy output began to catch up with him. Suddenly Diaz was back in the fight.

That was when Diaz stunned the entire world. He clipped McGregor’s chin, stunning him and sending him backward. Diaz didn’t stop there. Seeing that the Dubliner was suddenly vulnerable, he was relentless with his followup, smashing McGregor repeatedly. When ‘The Notorious’ desperately tried to take him down, Diaz managed to lock the rear naked choke.

YouTube video

Post-Fight Legacy

Seeing McGregor tap out was one of the most shocking moments in recent MMA history. One of the most amazing things about the result though is that it didn’t have any negative impact on either fighter. They met again at UFC 204, with McGregor winning by close decision. A third fight is expected to happen sometime in the future.

McGregor would go on to win the lightweight title against Eddie Alvarez and fight Floyd Mayweather in a boxing match that earned him $100 million. Meanwhile, Diaz hasn’t fought since their rematch but his stature in the company has never been stronger. Both men are stars now. Arguably McGregor’s loss made him even more compelling for audiences.

The night itself was huge for the UFC. The defeat of their biggest star could have had devastating consequences, but it didn’t. They treated the world to a genuinely exciting rivalry, arguably the best in the UFC since Daniel Cormier vs Jon Jones. UFC 196 reminded MMA fans just what combat sports is all about. Watch the full fight above.

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