The preamble is almost over between Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz. Both have made it through their camps and many experts are expecting a tight battle. Still, UFC 202 forces two questions into my mind.
Can McGregor avenge his loss or will the “Stockton Slapper” Nate Diaz force him to tap out again? And, what effect has the fight had on the organization?
Looking back at their first contest – as McGregor refers to it – each fighter’s adaptability was tested. Diaz was eating and drinking, having a good time 10 days before the fight.
Nate was doing whatever he wanted, leaving him in a crunch to drop weight, discuss a game plan, and prepare for media obligations.
Did Diaz really have anything to lose in the first bout?
On the other hand, Conor was training like a savage to make history by defeating Rafael dos Anjos for the lightweight belt. Suddenly, he had to put on weight to make welterweight and prepare for a taller, experienced, and heavier fighter. All the “truth talking” was being put to the test and all the pressure was on the guy who accredits the UFC’s worth being largely because of him.
The first fight led to a ton of changes, particularly for McGregor’s training camp. He is under more pressure, as he confessed to spending up to $300,000 for this camp.
— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) August 16, 2016
Conor turned down movie deals and said he is laser focused for Nate. He told the media multiple times that thanks to his loss, he re-evaluated his training, and brought in diverse training partners to implement Diaz. He devised a structured schedule, to train specifically for an opponent.
On the other side, we have Diaz. What would you do for this rematch? We haven’t heard much. The media has been one-sided in covering the camps, even though Diaz is the one with the win under his belt. Nate’s coach, Richard Perez, has called out the media for not showing such respect to Nate. Based on this, let’s look at what we know.
Nate will have a full camp this time, will cut weight normally, and will peak when he needs to. The added confidence of already winning, matched with the underdog status, is a dangerous combination. What stands out to me most for McGregor are the cardio and ground game. Diaz paced himself in the last match because he didn’t have a camp. McGregor gassed hard after the first round, having put too much confidence in his power shots. McGregor claimed to correct this, but that is something only time will tell. Conor gassed with an unprepared Diaz; what will he do with a prepared Diaz?
— Jimmy Kimmel (@jimmykimmel) August 3, 2016
McGregor has also never gone into the championship rounds. He has never needed to, but that lack of experience will cause problems with pacing his energy. The other is the fact that McGregor has three losses, all of which came via submission. Another fact to add to that is all three losses also happened when he changed weight classes.
For Diaz, he will be facing a different McGregor than anyone has seen. Diaz needs to eat less shots, especially against such a precise striker. A strong chin doesn’t always save the day, so he needs to move out of range more, and get things to the mat when possible.
Getting things to the mat will help fatigue McGregor, open up opportunities for a submission, and take away a lot of McGregor’s striking. With all of this said, I’m going with Diaz for the win. He is more durable, experienced, dangerous in standup and on the mat, and has less pressure. Part of the appeal of the Diaz brothers is that they always have this ‘Don’t give a f***’ attitude, but when it comes to MMA, there isn’t anyone who takes the art more serious.
Regardless of who McGregor imported or how much structure he added to his camp, you can’t learn what you need to top an elite level BJJ guy in a few months. Realistically, no one has seen the McGregor that is about to fight before.
Who knows what will happen?
"I go in, touch the chin, they go to sleep. There's only so many times you can do that and remain laser focused." https://t.co/O2FTrdVvqm
— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) August 15, 2016
Based on skill and the level that Diaz has shown recently, I have Diaz winning in the fourth round by submission. Now the fight will be exciting and everyone wants to know what will happen, but when it comes to the organization, this fight really set the company back. I read discussion forum on Sherdog and it really said what I had been thinking of when the first fight was announced.
What’s the point?
If you go back and watch UFC 1, you realize how far the MMA world has come. From no weight classes, or time limits to what we have now, it’s grown leaps and bounds.
However, the purpose of all of these rules and regulations is to make it legitimate. Uniforms, USADA, it is the same for all sports. The thing that also makes sense in all professionally sports is rankings. Rankings put the best against the best. It allows NBA players to know where they stand before the playoffs and finals.
Not every hockey team in the NHL will see the playoffs. In football, you wouldn’t see the Seahawks and Giants just because you had some mouthpieces on the teams.
It would never happen.
The UFC’s ranking system looks like a joke and it’s reinforced by the “money fights,” the pay-per-views, and the entertainment.
There are many examples besides McGregor demanding and getting Nate twice. Tyron Woodley calling out GSP and Nick Diaz because he wanted a “money fight.” Dan Henderson is currently ranked #13, yet he gets a title shot? I love Hendo, but a professional sport needs professional rankings to be recognized.
These kind of fights set the company backwards. Why, in 2016, does the UFC need to let two guys of any weight class in the octagon for money?