The wait is over.
Despite losing UFC lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos to a broken foot, the UFC has tabbed former lightweight title challenger Nate Diaz to replace the Brazilian against UFC featherweight champion Conor McGregor at UFC 196 in Las Vegas. The bout will be contested at welterweight. The news was revealed on ESPN’s Sportscenter.
Diaz was picked over recent title challenger Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone and former champion Anthony Pettis.
The 30-year-old Diaz returned from a year-long layoff in December to best Michael Johnson at UFC on Fox 17. Prior to that, the Stockton, Calif., native dropped a decision to the aforementioned dos Anjos.
McGregor was looking to hold both the featherweight and lightweight belts simultaneously following his 13-second destruction of Jose Aldo at UFC 194. For now, however, that goal will be on hold. McGregor will step into the Octagon riding a 15-fight winning streak, including seven straight inside the UFC. His last five wins have all come via strikes.
UFC 196 takes place Saturday, March 5 from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. The event also features a women’s bantamweight title bout between champion Holly Holm and former title challenger Miesha Tate. The night’s main card airs live on pay-per-view.