The rematch was originally expected to take place at UFC 200 in July, but McGregor was removed from the fight card after failing to meet media obligations promoting the event.
The fight was rescheduled to headline UFC 202 on August 20. Coming off a loss and disagreements with the fight promotion, McGregor heads into the rematch with a lot of weight on his shoulders. McGregor’s coach, John Kavanagh, added more pressure to the situation this week when he stated that his reputation as a coach is also on the line.
“This is a very important fight for Conor, but I also feel that my own reputation as a coach is at stake,” Kavanagh wrote in a column for The 42.
“This contest can be a bit of a game-changer for us all. Some observers who are obsessed with weight classes and belts don’t see this as a very meaningful fight. They’re more interested in seeing Conor defend his featherweight belt and going after the lightweight strap too.
“But for me, we’re very lucky to be in a position to have an immediate rematch. In most cases, fighters have to be patient in order to get that chance. Having an opportunity to reverse an unfavorable result under the same circumstances just a few months later provides us with a chance to show that ‘Win or Learn’ isn’t just a catchy phrase. It really is something we practice and we have done for a long time.”
McGregor’s preparation for the rematch began almost immediately after the submission loss to Diaz in March. Neither Diaz or McGregor were preparing to face each other at UFC 196. McGregor was supposed to fight then-lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos in a champion versus champion super fight, but dos Anjos pulled out of the bout due to injury. Diaz stepped in on eight-days notice and ended the Irishman’s 15-fight winning streak.
Heading into the rematch, both fighters have known they were facing each other for five months. Both have had full training camps specifically tailored for their opponent. No matter what happens at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Aug. 20, there won’t be any excuses.
“There can be no excuses here if we don’t get the result we’re pursuing. The preparation has been flawless. But the reassuring thing from our point of view is that I know we won’t need any excuses because it’s not going to come to that,” he said.