Due to an interesting turn of events, we have a new matchup for the UFC 196 main event: Conor McGregor vs. Nate Diaz. Rafael dos Anjos dropped out after suffering a broken ankle, and Nate Diaz answered the call to fight McGregor, who currently holds the featherweight title and will move up two weight classes to the welterweight division.
It’s widely contested as to who will win this battle, but one thing is for sure, there’s a lot of tension between the two. And they’re both pretty bombastic.
Can we just talk about their press conference? I mean, a press conference with either fighter is always entertaining, but this one got pretty heated. The two exchanged plenty of smart remarks – the name-calling and f-bombs were in full swing. It basically consisted of McGregor going on about the weight of his checks and how he pretty much runs the UFC. He also made sure to drop a few slurs at Diaz.
Diaz didn’t even seem phased. In fact, he is probably the one guy who does not seem to be rattled by McGregor. If anything, Diaz shook McGregor when he dropped a bomb accusing him (and the entire UFC) of doing steroids. These two fighters are two of the biggest trash-talkers in the UFC, which makes this fight all the sweeter.
When it comes to McGregor and Diaz, we see an interesting matchup. From a technical standpoint, Diaz is scrappy, has the height and reach advantage, and is at another level when it comes to ground work. He is a real submission threat on his back and has submitted 11 fighters in 18 wins. However, his downfall is that many times he appears a little sluggish and doesn’t take kicks very well.
McGregor, on the other hand, is known for his power and speed. When it comes to striking, McGregor is confident in his sense of timing and distance; he’s able to move his head back just the slightest to avoid strikes and then strike back quickly with his long reach and straight punches.
Both fighters can be a little predictable. Because Diaz is a little slower and steady with no threat of takedown shots, McGregor could be able to figure him out pretty quickly. However, Diaz’s unorthodox game could throw him for a loop. The question is, will Diaz be in shape? He’s taking the fight on short notice and has been kind of hit or miss throughout his career. It’s tough to tell. What we know is both fighters have different advantages, so it will be interesting to see how they play to those strengths.
The most interesting aspect of this entire fight is weight and how it will affect each of the fighters. You have a featherweight and a lightweight fighting at welterweight. From first glance, it appears Diaz will be able to handle the jump better, especially considering he has fought at welterweight in the past. McGregor will have to adjust to being the lighter man with the shorter reach, but he definitely has the energy and skill to clinch a victory.
McGregor has guts to do what he’s doing, and what we’ve seen from him so far is that he delivers. With this fight, he really has nothing to lose but everything to gain. Sure, McGregor is a lot of talk, but he follows through with what he says. It’s admirable because he always says he will fight anyone and he truly means it – one thing is for sure, he never withdraws and always shows up. His opponents can’t say as much.
If McGregor wins UFC 196, we’ll likely see him again at UFC 200 to finally face dos Anjos for the lightweight belt or to defend his featherweight title against Frankie Edgar. What if he loses? Well, he could still end up going along the same road. Or all hell could break loose. We doubt it will, though – McGregor will still be the UFC’s pride and joy. The world didn’t end when Rousey lost to Holm; I doubt it would in this case either.
Prediction: I want to lean towards Diaz, but in this situation, McGregor appears to have the edge. He’s just at another level right now.
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