This Saturday, the king of the featherweights goes to war once again with the pride of the 209. Originally scheduled to take place at UFC 200, the second battle between Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz will take place Aug. 20 in Las, Vegas, Nev. at the T-Mobile Arena. Like the previous fight, it will be contested at welterweight and the winner is expected to gain a shot at lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez.
The rest of the card is anchored by a number of strong fights between potential title contenders, top ten fighters, and action brawlers. The co-headliner is a light heavyweight battle between Anthony “Rumble” Johnson and Glover Teixeira, with the winner expected to fight champion Daniel Cormier.
The FS1 card is headlined by an intriguing fight between rising bantamweight contender Cody Garbrandt and tough veteran Takeya Mizugaki. The Fight Pass prelims includes an underrated battle between Lorenz Larkin and Neil Magny to determine who moves up in a crowded welterweight top 10.
MAIN CARD PREVIEW & PREDICTIONS
Conor McGregor vs. Nate Diaz (Welterweight): Nate Diaz was never supposed to fight Conor McGregor, much less actually win that fight. In doing so, Diaz stopped the McGregor hype train in its tracks and threw the entire featherweight division into chaos. Now the hype is split down the middle and both fighters are getting a full fight camp in preparation for this match. McGregor’s power was always a deciding factor at featherweight but he couldn’t put away Diaz in a higher weight class. When McGregor tried to take Diaz down, he was met with Diaz’s superior submission skills. With McGregor furthering his work with the Portal movement training, it is believed he will try to work more movement against Diaz and utilize a stick-and-move strategy to avoid a war. Diaz’s strategy has always been the same, move forward, throw plenty of leather to wear down his opponents, and use his BJJ black belt to punish anyone who tries to take him down. All evidence shows that McGregor and his coaches took the time following the loss to examine the fight and prepare a stronger game plan for the second time around. McGregor will fight smart, utilize his superior movement, and stay away from Diaz’s best weapons. McGregor by decision.
Anthony Johnson vs. Glover Teixeira (Light Heavyweight): This fight was originally scheduled for the previous UFC show in Chicago but was postponed due to Johnson pulling out for undisclosed reasons. Both men have previously fought for the title; Teixeira losing a decision to Jon Jones and Johnson being choked out by Daniel Cormier. Johnson is a dangerous kick-boxer who can put men to sleep with his fists or his shins. Teixeira possesses a strong boxing game which is complemented by his wrestling and brutal submissions. Johnson is a gifted athlete but often fades after the first round. If Johnson runs out of gas, Teixeira will be able to take over the fight. Teixeira needs to survive the onslaught in round 1 and apply his wrestling to wear Johnson down. Glover has proven himself a tougher out than Johnson, so I’m going with Glover by submission in round 2.
Rick Story vs. Donald Cerrone (Welterweight): Cerrone was a standout at lightweight before moving up a division and shattering expectations. A victory over Alex Oliveira on short notice got him started, but the knockout victory over Patrick Cote cemented his place. Story has only fought once since 2014 but his record includes strong wins over Gunnar Nelson, Tarec Saffiedine and Brian Ebersole. Story has always been a tough wrestle-boxer and will be the best test to see if Cerrone can move into the welterweight top fifteen. Cerrone will depend on his kicks and his jab to keep Story at range and avoid the big punches and takedowns. Story will do his best to get inside on Cerrone and take him down where he will be able to hold him down and work his wrestling game. Cerrone has shown a greater takedown defense in his recent fights and his work against Cote shows that he is able to beat the bigger men of the WW division. Cerrone by KO in Round 2.
Hyung Gyu Lim vs. Mike Perry (Welterweight): I was a little shocked to see this fight stay on the PPV over fights like Garbrandt-Mizugaki or Larkin-Magny. Mike Perry steps into this fight on short notice to take on Lim, who has proven himself as an action fighter at best. Perry is 6-0 in his professional career with all six wins coming by KO. This fight will be a stand-up war and shouldn’t leave the first round. Both fighters have shown a willingness to move straight forward and throw hard leather. It’s a toss-up, but I feel Lim’s big show experience will carry him through to the win. Lim by KO in Round 1.
Tim Means vs. Sabath Homasi (Welterweight): Tim Means returns to the Octagon after his six month exile following a failed drug test due to tainted supplements. Homasi is stepping in on short notice to make his UFC debut. Homasi has an 11-5 record and trains out of American Top Team. Means is a dangerous action fighter who was holding his own against Matt Brown until he was caught and choked out. Means then came back and scored a vicious knockout over John Howard in his next fight. Homasi has shown experience and is capable in all aspects of the game, but Means is not the fighter to hand him an easy first win. Homasi will put up a tough fight, but the pick is Means by decision.
(Matt Peterson is an MMATorch contributor who contributes UFC PPV preview articles. He trains at an MMA gym in St. Cloud, Minn. He has been a close follower of MMA since UFC 100.)