Do you expect the Conor McGregor-Nate Diaz rematch at UFC 200 to play out any differently than the short notice UFC 196 matchup? Why, and/or how?
MICHAEL BANE, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Say what you will about Conor McGregor being style over substance. Say what you want about his mouth being more responsible for his popularity and success than his in ring accomplishments. Feel free to point out how the UFC has fast tracked him to championship fights, how they’ve shown favoritism to him over other fighters, and how he’s unfairly holding up divisions and calling his own shots. Maybe those things are true. If we’re finding anything out right now though, it’s that McGregor’s belief in himself is every bit as real as his words make it out to be. He really wants this fight again, and he really wants to prove he’s the better man at 170 pounds.
Conventional wisdom would suggest that the the winner of the last fight, one Nate Diaz, will have an even easier go of it the second time around. As opposed to coming in on only 11 days notice, he’s going to have a full camp to train and prepare for Mr. Notorious. Diaz pointed out the lack of prep in his post-fight comments, saying that if he had a full camp, he wouldn’t have even gotten hit.
Diaz is almost certainly going to be better being fully prepared, so the real question is can McGregor improve on what he’d previously done not only to beat Diaz, but to beat a better version of him than he lost to? If we stop to consider exactly what McGregor attempted to do in the last fight, there’s reasons to think that he may. While this fight may have realistically been a glorified lightweight match with two guys who agreed not to cut weight, Nate Diaz has legitimately fought at 170 pounds in his career. It’s not like we ever saw Jose Aldo looking to fight Rory MacDonald (a guy Diaz managed to take the distance before losing a decision). The step up is a monstrous one, and McGregor didn’t look out of place despite the loss.
Diaz’s claim he’ll avoid getting hit at all with a proper camp is hyperbole at best, and almost guaranteed wrong at worst. One of Diaz’s biggest assets is that he is so hard to finish. Indeed, only Josh Thompson has ever managed to stop him with strikes, and his lone submission loss came about 10 years ago. Diaz gets hit all the time, much like his brother Nick. Lest we forget, McGregor did a good job of busting him up and winning the first round.
If we’ve learned anything from watching McGregor’s last three fights (okay, two fights and one punch) it’s that McGregor isn’t afraid to stick his head out and he trusts his chin. If anything, he trusts it entirely too much and should be less happy to just stand and bang. McGregor spent the first round swinging away (and connecting) on Diaz, but when Diaz didn’t go down he wore himself out. In the second round, McGregor got gassed. McGregor got cracked. McGregor panicked and shot for a takedown. It was all downhill from there for the High King of Ireland.
McGregor’s talk isn’t just talk, he actually believes the stuff that comes from his mouth. He’s shown he’ll take on all comers and will fight at 170 to avenge a loss to a fighter he feels he’s better than. Say what you want about him receiving too much of a push, but he’s delivered both in performance and in ratings/pay-per-view buys. The improvements he can make are ones he can control: Improve cardio. Pace better. Don’t throw defense out the window in an attempt to knock an immensely tough fighter out. McGregor is a physical specimen who can likely compete near the top of at least two weight classes. We don’t exactly know what his ceiling is yet, or even how good he is. He wants this badly, and he’s willingly put himself under an immense amount of pressure with this fight. Expect him to step up his game and get his first win at 170 pounds.
FRANK HYDEN, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
I think it plays out differently in that McGregor won’t try to take the fight to the ground. I think McGregor finishes Diaz. He’s desperate, this is a desperate situation. If McGregor loses here, his hype train flies off the rails and it takes a long time to build that back up. He demanded this fight. I’m going to assume that he’s going to show the heart of a champion and come back with a big time performance. Something huge is going to happen in the aftermath of this performance. If McGregor loses, there goes all his bravado and bluster and the hype is done. If he wins, it’s bigger than ever and he goes on to set more records. I’m going with McGregor because he demanded this fight. He knows what he’s doing and I’m going to trust him. He knows what’s at stake.
DAYNE FOX, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
There will be some differences in the narrative, but I expect the conclusion to be similar to the original outcome with Diaz beating down the Irishman to elicit either a submission or TKO victory.
The preparation will be different for the both of them which is what will be the difference in the narrative. McGregor should have learned some lessons from his loss (such as realizing his power isn’t the asset at heavier weight classes that it was at featherweight) which should make him a better fighter this time around. Problem is that he is negating those issues by insisting the fight take place at 170 lbs. I tend to agree with those who believe that McGregor is asking for that weight so that he might have a valid excuse when he loses while looking that much more impressive if he is able to pull off the win. I don’t like the manuever, but I’ll admit McGregor is one smart bastard.
Diaz should come in looking better too as he’ll actually have a fight camp behind him this time around. People keep pointing out that McGregor will better know how to fight Diaz this time around, but they neglect to acknowledge that Diaz will better know how to fight McGregor as well. As a result, it shouldn’t take Diaz as long to find his range next time around.
McGregor won’t be able to overcome the lack of size and length which are two features he is used to having the advantage in. For those simple reasons I have to believe that the result is going to eventually be the same.
[Photo (c) Mark J. Rebilas via USA Today Sports]
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