MMA writer Jeremy Botter chats to Off The Ball about Saturday night's UFC 196 fight
If Rafael Dos Anjos had not injured himself in training, Conor McGregor would have had the chance to make history in Las Vegas tomorrow night.
Instead a chance at adding the UFC lightweight belt to his featherweight title has evaporated but it sets up what looks likely to be an exciting battle with Nate Diaz at welterweight.
And MMA journalist Jeremy Botter feels the replacement fight is even bigger than the one originally scheduled for UFC 196.
"This fight now, I have to say, is way bigger than the Rafael Dos Anjos fight would have been, even though that had the historic nature of Conor going for two championships at once. The simple fact of the matter is, nobody knows Rafael Dos Anjos. Everybody knows Nate Diaz. They love him and they're dedicated to him," Botter told us, as he joined Off The Ball on the line from Sin City.
Conor McGregor ©INPHO/Raymond Spencer
If McGregor wins against Diaz, Botter expects the same outcome: namely that the Dubliner will face Robbie Lawler at UFC 200 for the welterweight title.
Botter does not think that potential match-up is a crazy idea for McGregor.
"Everybody thought it was crazy because 'he's so small and he's a featherweight'. Well, the truth of the matter is, he's not small. He's a big guy and we've seen he's put on the pounds, he's put on the muscle, he still looks good, still can move very well. I think if he beats Nate Diaz, I think you're going to see him call out Robbie Lawler and I think that's going to be your big fight for the year," he said.
Botter also feels that the Diaz fight will be less exciting than the build-up but expects McGregor to prevail.
"The build-up to the fight is going to be far more exciting than the fight itself. I think Conor is going to go out and absolutely decimate Nick Diaz. I don't think it's going to be close. I'd be surprised if it goes past two rounds. My actual prediction is McGregor by knockout in the first round," he said, and feels Diaz's reach advantage is minimal and that the American is not in the best of shape.
As for the scenario that he loses, Botter does not think it is a big panic as he can go back down to lightweight and remain a big star.