How do you expect the Conor McGregor-Nate Diaz rematch to play out at UFC 202? Will McGregor avenge his UFC 196 loss? Will Diaz emerge victorious again? How does it play out?
DAN MOORE, MMATORCH UK COLUMNIST
This is actually a really difficult fight to predict when it should be easy. There are so many variables and potential ways for a finish as the fight evolves on the night. Conor McGregor could absolutely inflict enough damage on Nate Diaz to stop the fight; and like the last one, if it goes to the mat, it won’t take Diaz long to execute another submission finish.
At UFC 196, it wasn’t a 10-8 first round as some are exaggerating, but McGregor did win it fairly comfortably. His cardio eluded him in the second and as soon as Diaz landed a good punch of his own, it was the beginning of the end. McGregor absolutely must not put himself in a position where he believes a takedown attempt is his only option. It went horribly wrong last time out and it will go horribly wrong again.
McGregor has to be patient, that’s the key. Keep working the leg kicks and combo’s while avoiding the constant jab or being taken down. Too many overhand left’s took their toll last time. McGregor will be better prepared physically so quantity over quality is the way forward. Diaz can easily win this fight again, but if McGregor has a better game plan, it’s his fight to lose. McGregor by TKO in Round four.
FRANK HYDEN, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
I think McGregor wins by TKO in the second round. Everything is on the line for McGregor here. If he loses again, he takes a major hit. McGregor’s entire persona is based on him beating everyone and looking like a boss. It’s about talking the most trash of anyone ever but backing it up. If he loses again, that’s over. No one is going to listen when he calls himself the best ever and all that other stuff. No one is going to care. Yeah, he can build it back up by stringing together some impressive wins, but that’s going to take time. Another loss to Diaz sets him back a few years. So he’s desperate for the win. Which means he’s surely been working harder for this fight than any fight he’s ever had. And the fact that he called for this fight specifically puts even more pressure on him. He has to deliver, this is a legacy-defining fight for McGregor.
If McGregor wins, he’s back and better than ever. People love a good comeback. If he loses, bye-bye biggest star of all-time. McGregor is either going to buckle or thrive under the pressure, and I’m betting that he thrives. He knows the stakes and knows that he has to deliver. I think McGregor comes out and blitzes Diaz early and often and sets the tone. I think the toughness of Diaz allows him to stick around, but that he’ll wilt before the relentless onslaught from McGregor. There’s just too much incentive for McGregor to win for him to not give everything he’s got.
NICK GRINUPS, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
I think we will see a very competitive fight in the first three rounds. I would not be surprised if McGregor can outpoint Diaz for the first 15 minutes. But, after the third round I see Diaz using his reach, cardio and size to push McGregor on the fence and take the fight to the ground. I see Diaz winning by submission in round five.
JOEL WIELENGA, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
I think Conor is going to be taking this fight a lot more serious then he did in the last fight. Both guys will have had a full training camp training for each other so both should look better. I think Conor is the better fighter of the two and I expect him to leave the cage with a win.
As far as how he wins it, I think the fight will go all five rounds. I expect the first two rounds to be fairly close with Conor winning both. I think at that point Conor will start to pull away and I do not see the final three rounds being very close at all. Nate is tough as they come and he will not be taken out but I do see him getting beat fairly decisively come Saturday night.
MATTHEW PETERSON, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
As much of a fan of Diaz that I am, I have the sinking feeling that McGregor learned the hard lessons from the first fight and will adjust for this one. A fighter with good movement and the ability to leave emotion out of the fight has always been the worst opponent for Diaz. McGregor has made it known that his movement training with the Portal group has increased for this fight and he knows now that his power alone cannot carry him to a victory. Diaz will try his usual tactics of pushing forward and taunting, but McGregor will stick and move. He will take his time with Diaz and avoid the ground game for sure, where Diaz has his greatest advantage. I would love another war and a Diaz win, but McGregor will play this one smart and take Diaz with a unanimous decision.
RICH HANSEN, MMATORCH COLUMNIST
Certainly I’ll be on the floor by that point, hugging the feet of anyone I can reach, telling them how awesome I think they really are and asking if they would please make sure I don’t accidentally slither down the stairs on accident.
[Photo (c) Mark J. Rebilas via USA Today Sports]
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