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?
MIKE HISCOE, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
This is a tough fight to call. To me the big question is can Conor increase his power enough through bulking up to knockout the bigger Diaz? In the first fight, he wasn’t able to do so without gassing out, but he was also much more undersized than he should be this weekend. Conor has been obsessed with avenging this loss since it happened but that may be his undoing. Speed has always been McGregor’s strength and he may lose a lot of that by putting on weight. Before the McGregor fight, Diaz’s boxing was very sharp against Michael Johnson last December and I expect this fight to play out in a similar fashion to that fight, with Diaz starting slow but ultimately winning a decision. I don’t think McGregor will be foolish enough to take the fight to the ground again, but if he does he will likely be submitted once again.
CHRIS HUNT, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
I honestly feel that McGregor will destroy Diaz. He will bust him up, and the doctor will stop it due to punches against the cage. He must not go to the ground against him, or be sucked into the Diaz mind games, but he has allegedly spent $300,000 dollars, sparred over 400 rounds with middleweights, scaled back the media commitments and has been solely focused on this moment ever since he lost the first match. That spells trouble for Diaz, he needs to stay lighter on his lead leg, jab like a piston and get it to the ground. He has a chance, just not a good one in my opinion.
ROBERT STAAF, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
I’m really unsure how this rematch will play out and I don’t think I’ll be surprised by any outcome, barring something crazy and out of left field like a McGregor submission win, which would surely turn some risk-takers in Vegas into instant millionaires. There were so many outlying factors at play in their first bout, with Diaz as a last-minute replacement, Diaz having little to no training camp into the fight, McGregor likely adjusting his game plan from his original opponent Rafael dos Anjos to Nate Diaz, and the jump from Featherweight to Lightweight to Welterweight, etc. that I just don’t know what to expect here. McGregor has surely handled the weight gain more carefully and has had ample time to prepare specifically for Nate Diaz, but the same applies to Diaz. He has had a full training camp and also knows what worked and didn’t work in their first fight. Having to make a prediction here, I’ll go with it playing similarly to the first bout. McGregor will outwork Diaz on the feet and assuming he is better acclimated to the higher weight, will be able to do so longer than the seven or so minutes he did in the first fight, but I don’t see him being only the second person in 29 fights to finish Diaz by strikes. I’m just not sure he’ll be able to outstrike Nate Diaz and avoid his power for a full 25 minutes, so I’ll go out on a limb here and predict Diaz rocks him in similar fashion to their first meeting, except this time in the fourth round, and follows him to the ground to seal the deal with a choke. Prediction: Diaz by submission in the fourth round.
DYLAN WEBSTER, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
This fight could go either way, McGregor has been training hard since the loss at UFC 196, has apparently spent over $300,000 on his camp, he is in a serious mindset and seems to want that win more than Diaz, however Diaz will have a full camp this time for the rematch so that could change the game again. If I had to choose, I would go for McGregor, he wants it more and his intense focused training should stand him in good stead to deal with Diaz this time around, Diaz is hard to beat by KO/TKO going by his record, he has only lost once in his career by TKO and never by KO, so it will most likely go all the way to a decision.
ADAM TINDAL, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
I see the Diaz-McGregor fight playing out a number of ways. First Nate could start off much faster than last time and could possibly drown Conor in volume right away and get a similar finish in the very first round. Second, Conor could conserve that energy much better but still fade in the fourth or fifth rounds and still get finished in similar fashion. Third, Conor does the unthinkable and puts Nate out cold which could happen at any second of any round really. Ultimately it is for fate to decide but I know Conor is smart and will be much more adherent to the endurance and durability of Nate Diaz and just as much Nate will try to avoid getting hit even more than he did before. This fight is so great. Can’t. Wait.
STEVEN CONSENTINO, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Conor claimed the shots that were connecting in the first fight would have “crumbled” any featherweight. Even Diaz was on record saying the little guy “hits hard.” McGregor undoubtedly bought into his own hype train, and may have slightly overlooked Diaz. Once in trouble, somewhere Connor isn’t used to being, he made the mistake of diving in for the takedown and Diaz capitalized by doing what Diaz does best, resulting in the tap heard round’ the MMA world.
Now that he has been brought down to earth, McGregor comes into this contest much more mentally focused, prepared, and physically brings everything including the kitchen sink to Diaz, because that’s what it will take to win.
RYAN LEGARSKY, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Coming from someone who picked Nate Diaz to win the first matchup, I really don’t see the same result in this one. Each time McGregor has suffered a defeat in the past, he responded in his next fight with quick wins. He had a full camp this time around and seems like he would rather die than lose consecutive fights. Although I foresee a four or five round war, Conor gets this one before going back to featherweight.
FRANK GONZALES, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
While I certainly expect Conor to show some different looks, particularly more leg kicks, I still see him coming out fast and trying to end it quick. Diaz is a slow starter, and sometimes needs to get cracked a few times to get in his rhythm. But once in the groove, his relentless pressure breaks down his opponents and allow him to take over.
That’s basically what happened last fight and basically what’s going to happen again. I don’t see Diaz taking nearly as much damage, though, and think he’ll be in Conor’s head early on. If Mac allows his hubris take over, this one could end quick.
[Photo (c) Mark J. Rebilas via USA Today Sports]
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