March 3, 2016

UFC 196: Conor McGregor Takes Welterweight Test Drive

By Adam Martin

UFC Featherweight Champion Conor McGregor hasn't even defended his 145-pound title yet, he hasn't even fought at lightweight in the UFC yet, but at UFC 196 this weekend, he will make his welterweight debut against veteran Nate Diaz. Considering McGregor hasn't even been in the UFC for three years, it's incredible what he's accomplished so far, and what he wants to do in order to cement his legacy as one of the sport's all-time greats, if he's not there already.

In MMA, we often see fighters drop down weight classes. It happens all the time. But for a fighter to move up one weight class, let alone two? It's nearly unheard of. Other than Hall of Famers BJ Penn and Randy Couture -- the only two-division champs in UFC history -- very few fighters are doing what McGregor is doing right now, and it's incredible to watch him do it.

Yes, it's a bit disappointing that McGregor isn't fighting UFC Lightweight Champion Rafael dos Anjos with the chance to make history as the first dual titleholder in UFC history, but it's been pretty clear the last week that this superfight with Diaz is a lot more exciting for fans. While there is no title involved, it's a tremendously exciting matchup between two fighters who always come to fight.
It's also McGregor's test drive at welterweight, and if it's a successful one, he could stick around his new weight class, completely bypassing lightweight in the process.

At the UFC 196 pre-fight media scrum, McGregor mentioned interest in fighting UFC Welterweight Champion Robbie Lawler, and he sounded completely genuine when he said it. A lot of fans will think that it's crazy to imagine McGregor having much success against a bigger, stronger fighter with the skills of Lawler, but McGregor has said a lot of things in the past that seemed crazy but yet came to be true. So if he says he wants to fight Lawler, believe him, because if there's anyone who wants to challenge himself and make history in the process, it's McGregor.

First, though, he needs to take care of business at UFC 196 against Diaz, who has way more experience fighting at the weight class. Although Diaz has some of the better boxing in the division, along with a tremendous chin and an elite ground game, this matchup against McGregor seems very tough on paper. The Irishman's powerful boxing, incredible conditioning, and will to win make him a tough matchup for anyone at nearly any weight class, especially against an opponent taking the fight on short notice like Diaz.

Having said all of that, everyone is just hoping for a great fight this weekend at UFC 196. It's McGregor's first shot at welterweight. Now, let's see if he can take the opportunity and run with it.

UFC 196
Conor McGregor vs. Nate Diaz

Click the stars to rate your anticipation for this fight.


UFC 196: McGregor vs. Diaz (formerly UFC 196: Dos Anjos vs. McGregor, UFC 197: Dos Anjos vs. McGregor) takes place on March 5, 2016 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Click the stars to rate how good you think UFC 196 will be.

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