There have been a few concerns since the new UFC 196 main event was announced that Nate Diaz wasn’t really ready for a challenge like Conor McGregor on two weeks notice.
Diaz typically competes at lightweight but the fight with McGregor will take place at 170 pounds, which raised a few questions whether or not he was even training before landing the coveted main event spot.
UFC president Dana White did his best to squash those rumors when he appeared on LA Today in Los Angeles on Thursday.
"Nate Diaz has been training for a triathlon," White revealed. "Nate Diaz is in phenomenal shape right now.
"So he’s not coming in out of shape. He’s in phenomenal shape right now."
Diaz most recently fought this past December in Orlando, when he defeated Michael Johnson by unanimous decision.
Typically, Diaz and his older brother Nick are known for having some of the best conditioning in the entire sport. Just like White referenced, the Diaz brothers are well-known triathletes in their spare time, so Nate really might have been training — just not specifically for a fight.
White did confirm that several other fighters were considered for the showdown with McGregor but ultimately Diaz ended up being the top choice.
The first calls went out to two former champions with one of them currently dealing with an injury before his phone line was flooded with potential opponents.
"We called a lot of people. Our first choices were Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar. Neither guy could do the fight. Frankie Edgar’s going crazy because I said he couldn’t do the fight. He’s injured. He’s injured and couldn’t take the fight," White clarified.
"This business is a business of opportunity. When opportunity knocks, you jump on it or you don’t. In a perfect world, you’ve had six to eight weeks to train, you know the guy you’re fight and you have no injuries and everything goes perfectly. Nate Diaz and a lot of other guys, too — Urijah Faber was on the list, Anthony Pettis, "Cowboy" Cerrone — but at the end of the day, Nate and Conor really want to fight."
Unlike the previous main event, McGregor and Diaz won’t be competing for a title but White says some rivalries go beyond gold belts and prestige.
Sometimes two guys just really want to settle their differences in the Octagon, so McGregor and Diaz are going to meet next weekend to do that.
"This isn’t about numbers or belts," White said. "It’s about two guys who want to fight."