It has only been a month since Nate Diaz beat Irish fighter Conor McGregor at UFC 196 via submission in the second round — but the welterweight still hasn’t forgotten the reactions of A-list critics from Justin Bieber to Drake who cast doubt on his abilities beforehand on Twitter and Instagram.
“A lot of people like Bieber, Drake and [former NFL star] Jerry Rice were saying all of these things,” Diaz told TheWrap about his bloody upset victory on March 5. “Anyone who is a real fan of the sport — and not just what is blasted over social media — knew I had a better chance of winning the fight.”
After all, Diaz has been fighting since he was a teenager and has countless victories under his belt, including winning Spike reality series “Ultimate Fighter 5” in 2007.
Still, many were surprised by the performance by Diaz, a late replacement for the injured Rafael dos Anjos and a four-to-one underdog who delivered Dublin-born McGregor his first loss in six years. A rematch has already been set for July 9 in Las Vegas.
“I have a lot of fights and they were making it out like I was a new guy getting a chance, but he [McGregor] was actually the guy getting the chance with a real fighter who has been in the game and is a real opponent,” Diaz said.
“They weren’t bashing me but they were saying that he was going to win … It was just irritating, but there was no hard feelings on anybody.”
Diaz, a 30-year-old native of Stockton, California, also recently resolved his virtual beef with Bieber in person (at swanky Hollywood hotspot, Warwick, no less) after the “Sorry” singer posted a photo on Instagram of McGregor captioned: “Still the champ.”
Diaz quickly proved he was even more social media-savvy, however, posting an animated response in which he gave Biebs a hard slap across the face, asking: “Is it too late now to say sorry?”
And what are relations between the pair now like?
“It is all good. He stated his opinion on the fight. And then I stated my opinion on his opinion and one thing led to another,” Diaz told TheWrap. “Then I ran into him and he was like, ‘Is everything good?’ So we’re all cool. He is a nice guy, we took pictures and talked about some things.”
The reconciliation led to this chummy photo below, which inevitably went viral.
As for the loudest mouth of them all, McGregor himself, Diaz doesn’t mind his Irish rival talking smack outside the Octagon as it brings attention to the sport. “He bashes the person he is fighting. I don’t really do that,” Diaz said.
Even after shocking the world by choking out McGregor, he is still perceived as the underdog by many. “They [UFC] never push it out for me like they do for him. He’s going to bring in the Irish fans and he’s got an accent — they love the accent — and they push it out hardcore,” he continued. “I am in the background asking, ‘Why? Because he has an accent he gets all this media?’
“So that is why I was upset in the first place. He was saying all these things to begin with,” he continued. “It is the fight game and everyone should speak up — but you don’t have to talk crap to the people you are fighting.”
Watch TheWrap’s full interview with Diaz in the video above, and check out his rematch with McGregor at UFC 200, which will take place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, on July 9.