As I sit back and think about the main event at UFC 196, my mind is starting to change directions. What I originally thought would be a walk in the park for McGregor won’t be. Bank on this as a fight of the night thriller.
Styles make fights and Nate Diaz has all the variables to pull this off. The one and only thing I see as a problem is cardio as Diaz took on short notice and this is booked as a five rounder verses a three. Let’s break this fight down more thoroughly.
The stand up battle is a wash as both have outstanding stand up striking. Nate will try to use his reach and quick combos to breakdown McGregor keeping good distance. We all know Diaz has a great chin and even if it goes to the ground, that could be quicksand for the Irishman.
Diaz has spectacular jiu jitsu especially from the bottom utilizing his long legs for the triangle. I feel McGregor will not go to the ground and will choose to back away allowing him to stand up. If Connor chooses to ground and pound, it’s possible the “Stockton brawler”could slip a leg over and catch him.
McGregor will utilize his vicious array of kicks and punches to find an opening in the armor of Diaz pushing forward the entire time. That could work into Nate’s advantage as well if McGregor slips up and walks into a punch but McGregor has a great chin as well. Diaz also does not possess one shot KO power as he punches in bunches. With all that, I would give McGregor the edge because of the KO factor.
If the UFC featherweight champ finds himself on the bottom, Diaz could be dangerous for a few reasons. The first one being that he will attempt to exploit McGregor’s questionable jiu jitsu but I don’t think Diaz is as good on top as he is from the bottom. He also could very well allow McGregor to stand up.
The second is in a flurry, Diaz could catch the back of McGregor which could spell big trouble. Connor will have to proceed with caution at all times as Diaz has trained with some of the best ground guys in the world. I give Diaz the clear advantage on the ground.
Don’t forget the experience Nate Diaz possesses as well. The guy has beaten a ton of good guys and sometimes with ease. Just look up the who’s who on that list but have also seem him look flat and out of shape. The experience factor is close since McGregor has been on the biggest stage as of late. I would give Diaz a slight advantage.
Both men also possess the mental warfare skills as well and that is a toss up. Though it appears McGregor has more, maybe Diaz is better at channeling his energy into the fight and is not going to let Connor get to him. That is smart strategy for Diaz to perform well in this aspect of the fight.
Let’s all be honest here about McGregor, he ran through everyone the UFC has thrown at him at 145 lbs. including a very short and out of shape Chad Mendes. He was able to KO Jose Aldo with what some people would say was lucky. This is 170 lbs. and a very tough tall Nate Diaz who is a whole new animal to deal with.
The question is was all that legitimate skill vs the “Luck Of the Irish”. We all know he has tremendous skills and can sell a fight but does he have the skills to win a war where he has to reach down deep in the latter rounds to pull it out ?
The only thing I see favoring McGregor heavily is the preparation aspect. Diaz took the fight about 7 days ago or 12 days before fight day. The question is how out of shape was Diaz ? Where is his baseline of stamina if not really doing much ? These questions will only be answered on Saturday.
As far as a prediction, I will hold of until after I watch the weigh-in. I want to see both men on the scale and watch their eyes and confidence. Sometimes it will tell you what’s going on in the heads of the fighters like it did with RR and other times it does not. It should be a good time either way.