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Conor McGregor shows surprising respect, calls Nate Diaz ‘bonafide superstar’ ahead of UFC 279 return

Jason Burgos

The legendary feud between UFC superstars Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz has seemingly hit a new respect phase with “Notorious” showering praise on his long-time rival ahead of Diaz’s return in the main event of UFC 279 on Saturday night.

McGregor vs Diaz is the rivalry that helped to elevate the Californian to mixed martial arts superstar status. Their origin story in 2016 at UFC 196, and then sequel five months later at UFC 202 were two of the biggest fights in the promotion over the last decade. They banked boatloads of cash in pay-per-view buys and took the organization to new heights of popularity.

A trilogy bout is arguably the most sought-after fight in the entire sport. However, there is some doubt about that possibility with Diaz likely bringing his UFC career to a close on Saturday. The 37-year-old has just one fight left on his contract and has made no secret about his desire to shed the shackles of being a UFC fighter. While there is always a chance he could return to the promotion he has worked for since 2007, it seems highly unlikely. Especially with plans to start his own combat sports promotion, Real Fight Inc.

Related: Nate Diaz next fight – Stockton’s finest faces a former UFC champion Saturday at UFC 279

The American is just hours away from bringing a finish to a wild UFC career, that saw a planned bout with rising star Khamzat Chimaev called off yesterday after the Russian missed weight, and Diaz will now instead face former lightweight champion Tony Ferguson in his promotional swan song. However, on Saturday morning the door to a trilogy fight between the two beloved UFC talents was kept open by none other than McGregor.

Conor McGregor says a third fight with Nate Diaz will happen

conor mcgregor, nate diaz
Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

After the latest installment of Diaz once again showing his willingness to fight anyone at any time, the Irishman decided to tweet a message of support and admiration for his greatest rival, as well as suggest a trilogy bout is not a question of if, but when.

  • Conor McGregor record: 22-6 (19 knockouts, 1 submission)

“Congrats Nate Diaz on making it to the end of his contractual obligations with the UFC, and as a bonafide superstar goer. An incredible feat. Fair play. Our trilogy will happen.”

McGregor message to diaz

The most likely way a third bout between the two happens may actually be outside of the UFC, and could even be a boxing fight. It is unclear how many fights McGregor has left on his own contract, but he and Diaz are certainly the kind of fighters with massive followings that could put on a multi-million-dollar event on their own one day, even if it happened when there were in their 40s.