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Conor McGregor reacts to Nate Diaz’s message of solidarity: ‘That’s a real fighting man’

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Conor McGregor appreciated the support of an old rival in his pursuit of a UFC return.

This past Sunday, Nate Diaz extended a surprising St. Patrick’s Day olive branch to McGregor when he tweeted out a message of solidarity for the former two-division UFC champion. In response to McGregor’s mounting frustrations with the lack of news regarding his comeback fight, Diaz called upon the UFC to “free Conor” and expressed empathy for the Irishman’s plight. Considering that he and Diaz share one of the most storied rivalries in MMA history, McGregor didn’t expect to find his old foe in his corner, but he welcomed it.

“Nate is great. When you share back-to-back knocks — we had real, real fights. That’s a real fighting man, the two brothers are real fighting men,” McGregor said on The MMA Hour.

“I always had the highest respect for the two lads, and f***, I was a fan of the lad. I was a fan of them, and then I got to share the octagon with them — we had wars, we boxed each other around. And I appreciate it, appreciate [the support]. I wish him well, always. I’ll always wish to see past opponents and future opponents — potential future opponents again — to see them do well. And what a monumental moment that will be, when we get that [trilogy fight] done. So I’m excited for it.”

McGregor, 35, and Diaz, 38, infamously fought twice in 2016, with Diaz winning the first bout via rear-naked choke as a short-notice replacement and McGregor claiming the rematch by majority decision. Eight years later, both fights — at UFC 196 and UFC 202 respectively — remain two of the highest-selling pay-per-views in MMA history.

Diaz’s message on St. Patrick’s Day echoed McGregor’s recent frustrations over his inability to get a date officially on the books for his UFC return. Diaz found himself in a similar situation at the end of his own UFC run — with only one fight remaining on his contract, Diaz ultimately had to publicly go to war with the promotion in order to land his UFC 279 swan song and become a free agent. McGregor currently has two fights left on his UFC deal, and Diaz couldn’t help but notice the similarities in the two situations between rivals.

“This was me for years before Conor even got here. They want [you] to die before [you] get out these contracts. It’s up to you to make something pop. No one gonna help you but you.

“Free Conor, it’s [St.] Patty’s Day in this b****.”

McGregor’s fortunes appear to have changed in recent days, however. “The Notorious” told MMA Fighting’s The MMA Hour on Wednesday that he finally has a summer date set for his UFC return against Michael Chandler. McGregor said the fight is just step one of a two-step plan that he hopes will allow him to compete twice in 2024, with the second bout targeted for the UFC’s debut trip to The Sphere in Las Vegas on Sept. 14 for UFC 306.

McGregor previously suggested that the long-awaited trilogy match between he and Diaz serve as the headliner for UFC 306, however UFC CEO Dana White quickly nixed that idea.

McGregor isn’t quite sure why.

“The cold water, [White threw] cold water it instantly,” McGregor said. “That’s huge. That, to me, has The Sphere written all over it. Mexican Independence Day. Nate Diaz is an American Mexican and a beloved fighter and a real fighter. Now, he’s hard to deal with with the lads [UFC executives], and I don’t know all the ins and outs, to be honest — and I know the lads are hard to deal with also. So I think it’d be amazing and it would suit me lovely — the date in summer and into September, I believe I get my two fights in this year.”

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