McGregor was scheduled to take on lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos in a quest to hold two UFC titles simultaneously, but news broke on Tuesday that dos Anjos had suffered a broken foot in training and was forced out of the title fight.
“He will fight Nate Diaz. We figured this would be the most exciting fight. It’s the fight that Conor really wanted. A lot of people wanted to fight Conor McGregor, but Diaz wanted the fight and we felt this was the fight to make,” said UFC president Dana White during an appearance on Sports Center.
Following the news of dos Anjos’ injury, several fighters immediately offered to step up on short notice to take on McGregor, including Diaz, Donald Cerrone, Anthony Pettis and Urijah Faber. Ultimately, the fight promotion reached an agreement with Diaz.
“There was a long list of people that said that they wanted to have the chance to fight Conor McGregor. We called Jose Aldo. Jose Aldo turned the fight down. We called Frankie Edgar. Frankie Edgar turned the fight down. Those are two guys that everybody was talking about,” said White.
“We called Cowboy Cerrone. He absolutely accepted the fight and would love to take the fight. B.J. Penn wanted the fight. Anthony Pettis wanted this fight. A lot of guys wanted this fight, but we ended up Nate Diaz. We felt this was the fight to make and a fight that the fans wanted to see,” said the UFC president.
Diaz is ranked number five in the 155-pound division. He’s coming off a unanimous decision win over Michael Johnson on Dec. 19. Although, the bout against dos Anjos was scheduled to take place in the lightweight division, McGregor will face Diaz at 170 pounds.
“‘Conor McGregor has the 145-pound title. He was moving up to 155-pounds to take dos Anjos’ title. Then there was talk about him going up to 170 to fight Robbie Lawler for his 170-pound title. This fight between him and Nate Diaz will be at 170 pounds. It will be a welterweight fight, which is two weight classes above where Conor McGregor won his title,” explained White.