When Irish superstar Conor McGregor signed on to coach on The Ultimate Fighter 31, the gig was originally to appear opposite Nate Diaz.
The pair have a storied rivalry dating back to March of 2016, when Diaz stepped in to face McGregor on short notice at UFC 196, replacing Rafael dos Anjos, who had broken his foot. With the fight moving to 170lbs to accommodate Diaz, he managed to get the better of McGregor, submitting him in the final minute of the second round.
A rematch followed later that year at UFC 202, also at welterweight; this time, McGregor took home a decision win. Their career series tied 1-1, the rubber match of the trilogy has been waiting ever since.
In a special appearance on The MMA Hour on Wednesday, McGregor revealed that he was originally supposed to face off with Diaz as a coach on TUF 31.
“It was originally to be against Nate. It was Nate, me versus Nate,” he stated, asked about facing Michael Chandler on the show. “So I didn’t mind who it was against, to be honest, nor do I mind who I compete against, that’s widely known. So I had agreed to it, it was Nate, it was like a day or two before, now it’s Michael Chandler. I’m not sure what went down on that end, but it was me versus Chandler, and that’s it. I have no problem, I’m happy with it.”
While McGregor won’t get to throw down with Diaz at the end of TUF 31, he believes the pair will close out their trilogy some day. “I’ll get that again. That trilogy will happen at some stage for sure.”
As for Chandler, McGregor confirmed that he’ll be fighting at welterweight. “I’m 170 next,” the former double-champ stated. No time frame has been announced, but McGregor added “late summer, maybe a little bit later, depending.”
Much has been made of McGregor needing to be in the USADA testing pool before any return date, but the anti-doping organization previously confirmed to Cageside Press that the UFC can waive the six-month testing window for returning fighters.