McGregor surprised Diaz early with a trio of knockdowns that no one saw coming as the Irishman tagged the concrete chin of his opponent with a series of stinging combinations. Diaz powered through those setbacks, however, and came roaring back for a near finish of his own in the third round.
The final 10 minutes saw McGregor stage a miraculous comeback in round four after nearly being put away and Diaz closing the show by battering the featherweight champion against the cage and on the ground.
In the end, McGregor eked out a very close majority decision after five rounds, and while he was the favorite according to the oddsmakers, he was slightly behind Diaz when it came to UFC fantasy players.
More from UFC 202: Results | Postfight bonuses | UFC 202 Talking Points | McGregor edges Diaz in five-round epic | Anthony Johnson rumbles to win | Garbrandt romps, Pennington, Lobov also win | Larkin impresses, Covington wins late in FIGHT PASS prelims | Watch Backstage interviews: Conor McGregor, Nate Diaz, Anthony Johnson, Donald Cerrone, Mike Perry, Tim Means, Cody Garbrandt | Octagon interviews: Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz, Anthony Johnson, Lorenz Larkin | Watch the first three fights of the night on-demand on UFC FIGHT PASS | Order the UFC 202 replay
McGregor was selected by just 46 percent of players going into Saturday night, with 79 percent picking him to get the win by knockout. Still, McGregor got the job done and played a crucial part in fantasy scoring because his bout with Diaz was such a close affair for everyone picking the fight.
Anthony "Rumble" Johnson was one of the heaviest favorites going into Saturday night and he certainly got the job done with a jaw-rattling knockout over Glover Teixeira that took a mere 13 seconds.
Johnson was picked by 82 percent of players, with 87 percent selecting him to win by knockout. Considering his track record, both of those options were a solid lock for Johnson to finish Teixeira by strikes and he did not disappoint.
Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone was another huge favorite for UFC 202, with 88 percent of players picking him to win, with 41 percent saying he'd knock out Rick Story during the three-round battle. Cerrone did just that with a second-round TKO over Story, who had actually never been knocked out during his entire 28-fight career until "Cowboy" did it Saturday night.
Garbrandt needed less than one minute to blast Takeya Mizugaki in a first-round drubbing, with a whopping 94 percent of players picking him to win and another 82 percent saying he'd win by knockout.
Lorenz Larkin stood tall as one of best underdogs all night after he put on a show with a first round TKO victory over No. 7 ranked welterweight Neil Magny. Larkin was picked by only 23 percent of fantasy players, with 47 percent picking him by knockout.
Newcomer Mike Perry also earned a big upset with a huge TKO win over Hyun Gyu Lim after only 28 percent of players picked him to beat the veteran Korean fighter. Following such an impressive showing, Perry will probably find a lot more players picking him to win next time.
Another huge upset occurred on the UFC 202 prelims as Cortney Casey submitted Randa Markos with a first-round armbar, with only 27 percent of players picking her to win. Both Casey and Perry helped serve a huge point swing for the players who selected them to win, especially considering how many favorites came through in the clutch on Saturday night.
At the end of the night, only five underdogs came through victorious on a 12-fight card, so those selections likely made a big difference in who came away with the top point totals for the entire card.