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UFC 196 Blog: A very popular replacement

DUBLIN

After weeks upon weeks of canvassing, debates and pontificating, the Republic of Ireland had its general election last Friday. Voters made their way to polling stations that were dotted around the Emerald Isle to designate their support to the various politicians that were available for selection.

On more than a few occasions, instead of issuing their selections, some voters simply wrote “Conor McGregor” on their ballot sheets.

Two days before the voting ensued, Nate Diaz joined “The Notorious” on stage for their UFC 196 press conference in California. Having only broken the news of Diaz replacing Rafael Dos Anjos the night before, it was amazing to see the lack of concern the majority of fans and media had despite the Irishman’s chances at becoming the first man to hold two UFC titles simultaneously being brought to an end.
 


The insults flew back and forth with both men enjoying joyous eruptions from the crowd, which celebrated a meeting of two men famed for their machismo on the microphone and their self-proclaimed visions of being “true martial artists”.

Despite a battle 10 years in the making taking place in the London last weekend, as interviewers, camera crews and fighters filed into the Grange Tower Bridge Hotel, there was one particular matchup that was queried more than any other – and it wasn’t Anderson Silva versus Michael Bisping.

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Fighters from the top to the bottom of the UK card were asked about mouth-watering UFC 196 main event matchup, and although they might usually be a little bit reluctant to converse on other matchups with their own bouts being around the corner, even they couldn’t help but give their two cents.

And it’s not just the aggressive striking styles of McGregor and Diaz that make it such a contest for the fans – it’s the attitude that they bring to the Octagon. Both men are known to walk down their opponents and as their counterparts retreat, they mock them until they are either forced to exchange or they run out of room to escape in the steel-meshed enclosure.

According to Owen Roddy, McGregor’s striking coach, it is the trash talking exchanges that The Notorious is looking forward to more than anything else.

“Conor is buzzing about having that kind of fight with him,” Roddy tells me as he waits for his plane to join McGregor in Las Vegas.

“It actually has him more excited for this fight that anything else. He wants to have that little bit of back and forth with Nate, and we could see that from the press conference. Conor was enjoying that trash talk, although Nate didn’t say much.

“I was expecting a lot more from Nate during that press conference, but he just kept cursing,” Roddy adds. “There were plenty of ‘I don’t give a f*cks’, but I dunno, maybe it’s just me, but I was expecting something a lot better than that.

“Conor loves this. He enjoys giving people a bit of sh*t when he’s fighting, and if people come back with sh*t, Conor just kind of laughs it off. He doesn’t take any of that stuff too seriously. I really doubt that Nate’s talking in the Octagon will effect Conor in any way.”

With such a masterful piece of matchmaking to be manifested in front of our eyes in the MGM Grand on Saturday night, four days seems like a lifetime.

Peter Carroll is a longtime MMA journalist who writes for the Irish Mirror, FIGHTLAND and SevereMMA.com. Follow him on Twitter at @PetesyCarroll

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