Predictably in the aftermath of Rafael Dos Anjos pulling out of the McGregor fight at UFC 196 and the subsequent announcement of McGregor vs. Nate Diaz being the new main event, the rabid Conor haters are coming out of the woodwork to froth at the mouth and fall over themselves to see who can yell "Conor is ducking Khabib" the loudest. Many are also accusing him of ducking Tony Ferguson, Anthony Pettis and Donald Cerrone. If you are one of these people and you don't understand why Conor and the UFC were keen on the Nate Diaz matchup, you're quite simply ignorant to how the business of selling fights works. First off, Khabib hasn't fought in two years, has no name recognition outside of the inner circle of MMA fans, has pulled out of numerous scheduled fights, has missed weight before (ergo, they have egg on their faces if they went through with the rumored plan of a 155 lbs Interim Championship fight and he missed weight), his style is not entertaining to the casual fan/new fan who may have heard the buzz about Conor McGregor and buy his fight to see what all the fuss is about, has never main evented or even co-main evented a pay-per-view. By bringing him in to fight Conor McGregor at a pay-per-view, you're essentially wasting a McGregor headlined PPV on a fighter who has zero name value and will contribute the least to the number of buys UFC 196 does out of any of the possible opponents. Furthermore, Ferguson/Khabib has been talked about and scheduled previously and Ferguson has lobbied for the fight a number of times. It's now scheduled again. For those saying Conor is ducking Khabib, doesn't it look like Khabib is ducking Ferguson? Pulled out of their fight before, was reluctant to sign to fight him this time, tries to jump in to fight McGregor roughly a month before he said previously that he would be ready to fight? But I digress. In addition to all of the down sides to the Khabib/McGregor fight I just mentioned, there's also the fact that in the eyes of the general public, a win over Khabib by Conor means nothing, and to the rabid Conor haters it will mean even less because it's "10 Days Khabib"/"2 Year Layoff Khabib"/"Out of Shape Khabib" or whatever other ridiculous name you want to append to him. So Conor fights a guy who brings nothing to the table financially but is nonetheless an extremely dangerous opponent who he will get no credit for beating because most people don't know who he is and the ones who do know who he is will say he wasn't in shape and the win means nothing. Ferguson has little name recognition and no PPV experience of note despite his great resume of late, and besides that he has the aforementioned fight signed with Khabib that's been in the works for an eternity now. Why take him out of that fight? I'm not sure why Pettis was even being discussed. He's lost two fights in a row and has looked like shit doing it. Would any of you nutjobs give McGregor any credit for beating "No Camp Washed-Up Pettis?" And what would the UFC do with Pettis if he should win? He got sonned by RDA a couple of fights ago so a rematch so soon after doesn't exactly thrill. The scheduled fight with Barboza figures to be a lot of fun and it makes perfect sense in every other respect (business/rankings wise), too. As for Cerrone, he's the only guy besides Diaz who was on the table who made sense. He's reasonably popular, he's a fun fighter, he's a pretty good talker and there's been a bit of back and forth between him and Conor previously so there's something of a storyline there. From my perspective the drawback of making Cerrone/McGregor at this stage is that Cerrone is fresh off a first round, first minute stoppage against the guy Conor was originally scheduled to face. He had a good win over Alex Oliveira on FS1, but the number of people who saw that fight versus the number of people who saw his drubbing at the hands of RDA is small. I'm not sure what weight Cerrone cut from for the Oliveira fight, but I assume a Cerrone/McGregor fight would've been proposed at lightweight or possibly a 160 lbs. catchweight, which may have been an issue. Anyway, I think this would've been an acceptable fight but I don't think it's the right time given the thrashing courtesy of RDA. I do expect Cerrone/McGregor to happen at some point. Diaz, on the other hand, is coming off arguably the best performance of his career against a top fighter in the weight class Conor was expected to fight against RDA. The fight was on the same card that the RDA/Cerrone fight was on, so there was good exposure. The Diaz brothers are well known and Nate has been around forever between fighting for the UFC and being on TUF. His style is crowd friendly and his persona and trash talk work well for selling fights. It's funny, too, because post-Aldo/McGregor, Diaz/Conor was a fight everyone was clamoring for, but all of the sudden the Conor haters are calling it an easy fight, describing Nate as a gatekeeper and a pushover, etc. Have people forgotten that he worked over Cerrone when they went head to head? I don't see how you can accuse McGregor of ducking a fighter who had nothing for the opponent he agreed to fight, nor do I see anything in Cerrone's skillset to even remotely suggest he'd be some sort of stylistic kryptonite for Conor -- he gets hit often, he's a slow starter, he hasn't demonstrated much in the way of true knockout power barring a couple of head kicks, he's not a wrestler by trade (although his wrestling and ground game are good for a guy who began as a pure kickboxer/Muay Thai fighter)... I don't see it. Diaz is the perfect opponent for an imperfect situation. TLDR version: Conor wanted to and was signed to fight the Lightweight Champion who is by definition the best fighter and toughest fight in the weight class; he could've pulled out of the event but is choosing to fight a high level fighter with a totally different skill set at a brand new weight class on 10 days notice. What is the ballsiest thing you've done this week?