HISCOE: Recent history indicates Nate Diaz will defeat Conor McGregor at UFC 202

By Mike Hiscoe, MMATorch contributor

Nate Diaz (artist Grant Gould © MMATorch)
Saturday night brings us what is likely the biggest rematch in UFC history. Nate Diaz and Conor McGregor will square off for the second time in less than six months in a fight that should do the highest pay-per-view buy figure of the year and could challenge for the biggest of all time.
Rematches are a natural in combat sports, particularly in MMA where anything can happen and upsets happen at the highest level on a regular basis. After any big fight, fans always want to know what’s next for the winner and the loser and, oftentimes, what’s next is what we just saw.

Besides the business advantages of big rematches, a key reason necessitating a rematch is the idea that if these two fighters were to meet again, the outcome may be different. Not only “may” be different, but there actually has to be the belief that there is a high likelihood of a different outcome, or why bother having the rematch?

Yes, sometimes fights are just so good that you would watch it again regardless of who wins or loses, but those fights are generally good because they are close and competitive. For example, there was little interest in a third Ronda Rousey vs. Miesha Tate fight until Rousey lost and Tate put some wins together finding herself back in the title picture. There was new reason to believe Tate could now defeat Rousey.

The original Diaz vs. McGregor fight left viewers with more than enough questions to necessitate a rematch. Whether it was intentional or not, McGregor set up the rematch in his post-fight comments masterfully. He talked about how he was inefficient with his power and reminded fans that he had moved up two weight classes to take the fight on short notice. The obvious question to be answered was how would Diaz and McGregor match up after full training camps and with less weight disparity.

In just a few days, we will find out, but if recent history is any indication, Diaz will win the rematch.

Looking back at the past three years of UFC title matches and main events, of those fights that were a rematch of two fighters who had fought each other at least once previously, the fighter who won the previous fight also won the rematch 76 percent of the time. The sample included 21 fights with five having a winner different than the previous fight.

In looking at these five outliers, there isn’t one common thread that binds them, but there are reasons to excuse them all. Most recently, Michael Bisping knocked out Luke Rockhold in the first round after being submitted in their first meeting. This fight was a huge upset with Bisping coming in on short notice in a fight very few thought he would win and even after knocking Rockhold out, very few would pick Bisping to win a third fight.

Another outlier that could be tossed out is the second Johny Hendricks vs. Robbie Lawler fight from December 2014. This fight ended in very close split decision for Lawler, who lost another very close decision to Hendricks in the first fight. This second fight, though, was a more controversial decision with only 3 of 16 media members scoring the fight for Lawler according to MMADecisions.com.

The other three fights that went a different way were Mirko Cro Cop defeating Gabriel Gonzaga, Nate Diaz knocking out Gray Maynard in their third fight, and Carlos Condit beating Martin Kampmann. Each of these fights took place years after the previous matchups and in hindsight had the loser finding himself on the downswing of their respective careers, and none of the three have reached their former status since these losses.

The Diaz and McGregor rematch does not appear to have anything in common with any of these fights as it has been less than six months since they first fought and there was a clear outcome the first time around as well. There’s always the chance of a quick knockout or a bad decision, but 76 percent is a significant number that I would lend a lot of weight to.

One of life’s greatest lessons is that history tends to repeat itself and MMA is no different, so if you consider yourself a student of the game, put some thought into putting your money, or at least your MMA pick ’em pride, on Nate Diaz on August 20.

(Michael Hiscoe is a new MMATorch live events reporter and editorial columnist. He has written reviews for movie websites such as DVDTown.com and MovieMet.com in the past. He has been an avid follower of MMA for over 10 years and now provides his experienced writing and perspective on live MMA events for MMATorch.)


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