UFC 202, Diaz vs. McGregor 2: 10 reasons to watch
On Saturday night, Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz enter the cage to put a cap on a tense week in the main event of UFC 202 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. It's a pay-per-view event, and if you're on the fence about watching, take these 10 reasons into consideration.
10. Ari Emanuel is here
The new owner of the UFC, and the basis of the character Ari Gold on Entourage, is in town for the fights. He didn't do a whole lot at weigh-ins when he joined Dana White on stage and who knows if he gets involved in the cage after fights or during the post-fight press conference, but it could be something to keep an eye on.
9. Fight Announcements
The UFC has announced the rest of the 2016 events schedule, and only the ones in the immediate future have main events announced. The UFC 205 main event for Madison Square Garden hasn't been announced yet. They're likely waiting to see what happens in the main event of UFC 202 and if McGregor escapes unscathed, but there could be an announcement. Also, Ronda Rousey is slated to return by the end of the year. Jon Jones might be getting cleared; could the UFC look to rebook his fight vs. champion Daniel Cormier that was slated to headline UFC 200.
8. Nick Diaz
Diaz's presence has loomed large in Las Vegas this weekend. There was the run-in with USADA, inviting Nate to walk out of the press conference, and being kicked out of the weigh-ins. He posed all of that to SnapChat, including a video of a kid hit by a water bottle thrown by McGregor.
Nick reportedly won't be able to corner Nate if he doesn't resolve a situation with the Nevada Athletic Commission, so that is a scenario to watch unfold.
7. Raquel Pennington
Raquel Pennington is a rising star in the bantamweight division who could work her way into the title picture over the next several months. She nearly defeated Holly Holm before she went on to beat Ronda Rousey, so Pennington can hang with the best. Her UFC 202 opponent isn't ranked and won't help her move into the title picture, but another win extends a streak and she is on the cusp of being in the discussion.
6. Neil Magny
The dude has won 10 fights since 2014, let that sink in. He is currently on a three-fight win streak and is looking to extend it when he fights Lorenz Larkin. He is slowly working his way into a crowded welterweight title picture. He's an all-out entertaining fighter to watch.
5. Ireland v. Stockton
Artem Lobov and Chris Avila step into the cage to square off during the prelims and the casual fan might not be familiar with either name, but this is a must-watch bout. Lobov is a fighter in McGregor's camp and Avila is a fighter in Nate Diaz's camp. All the bad blood and tensions from the main event of UFC 202 carry over into this fight. During media days, Lobov was clearly angry about the press conference fracas that resulted in water bottles being thrown. When the two faced off for staredowns, the tension in the room was palpable. Once they broke to face the cameras, Lobov continued to stare down Avila.
For Avila's part, he seemed much more Diaz-esque. But the feelings that weren't verbalized came out during the staredowns.
4. Donald Cerrone
Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone has always enjoyed getting in there to fight. The slogan for UFC 200 is "Anytime. Any weight. Any where." and there might not be a fighter who embodies this mantra more than Cerrone. At UFC 202 media days, Cerrone shook his opponents hand and asked if he was ready to have some fun. He then posed for the cameras because he just loves to fight.
Aside from the mentality, Cowboy holds the record for post-fight bonuses in the UFC/WEC and is a talented fighter who nearly racked up a double-digit win-streak before losing in December to Rafael dos Anjos in a lightweight title bout. He's already 2-0 in the months since then and looking to work his way right back into the title picture. He already has let his feelings about champion Eddie Alvarez be known. There could be another call-out if he wins Saturday.
3. Cody Garbrandt
Garbrandt is one of the most exciting young fighters in the UFC. The bantamweight contender is undefeated and climbing the rankings and just knocked off Thomas Almeida in devastating fashion. Garbrandt is angling for a bantamweight title shot and has made his intentions known before the fight, and he could look to reiterate them at some point on Saturday.
But aside from that, Garbrandt is a tremendous fighter who is on an incredible run and finding his groove. His fight, which is actually on the Fox Sports 1 portion of the card, is going to be must-watch action.
2. Light Heavyweight Title Implications
Anthony Johnson and Glover Teixeira square off in a main event that has been mostly overlooked because of the circus in the main event, but there are big implications on this fight. At the UFC 200 post-fight press conference, Daniel Cormier said he wanted to defend his belt against the winner of this bout next, then UFC president Dana White came out and basically confirmed that this was the No. 1 contender bout.
1. Diaz v. McGregor
As if this needed any explanation. It's the main event between two trash-talking fighters who love to throw hands. It's the kind of out-of-the-cage entertainment fans want to see, mixed with a style of fighting fans enjoy in the cage. There have been water bottles thrown, expletives exchanged and police officers brought on stage to prevent anything from happening between the men.
Diaz is looking to cement his place atop the UFC and force the organization to embrace him as one of its mega-stars on the same level as McGregor and Rousey. McGregor is looking to get back to his winning ways, restore his mystique and right what is a wrong in his mind.
There will be action inside the cage, there could be fireworks afterwards and the Irish fans are in full force once again to make their presense felt.