Rewind back all the way back to the press conference for UFC 196. Dos Anjos is out, Nate Diaz is in. A press conference is strewn together in a gym that looks more like a prison yard than the usual professionalism of a UFC event, but then again this wasn’t your average event. 10 days notice, and at a weight of 170lbs.
The key thing here, though, was in one of the several verbal exchanges between Diaz and Mcgregor, the quote ‘I don’t give a fuck’ by one Nathan Diaz. Now, this is a phrase you hear thrown around a lot, by a lot of people in a lot of different scenarios. The key thing here is that he didn’t, and probably still doesn’t. Diaz, by nature, is a fighter. Seeming like him and his notorious older brother Nick, are the type of people put on the planet to do just one thing, which is fight, and they do not give a fuck about anything else. Sometimes, as you can imagine, this can be detrimental in the fight game, where peak athletes wish to be in their prime shape, and mental focus, they can seem to be a bit lacklustre. Whereas, against Mcgregor, this works a charm. Mcgregor, not so cleverly, followed up with ‘I don’t give a fuck either’ which, by anyones standards isn’t the witty retort we’re used to hearing from him by any stretch of the imagination. We were almost left stranded in a sea of bad vocabulary, where even McGregor, once considered the master of mental warfare, couldn’t even crack Diaz’ shell.
All credit to Diaz, as Conor even managed to get into Jose Aldo’s head before they fought, leading him to bullrush in and get slept in thirteen seconds by Mcgregor, all based on mental warfare, and Diaz has just seemed simply impenetrable. Leading to Conor having nothing exciting or interesting to say, and who can blame him, after getting submitted in the first match, it’s going to be very hard to trash talk your way into the next one. The tension has been spectacular to watch unfold all culminating in the pre-fight press conference, something which usually isn’t too highly anticipated, but what we saw was great. Unprofessional, but great. Mcgregor was half an hour late, stormed in like he owned the place, so Diaz walked out, middle fingers in the air, and they started throwing bottles at each other. Great entertainment, and in Episode 5 of the UFC embedded episode (behind the scenes) we see Mcgregor very very wound up, almost to a childish level, Diaz has very very clearly got under his skin.
Which leads us all the way to the fight itself! I haven’t been this excited for a fight in a while, simply because I have NO idea how it’s all going to pan out, usually, you have some sort of idea of how something might go, based on one person’s particular set of skills against another, but with two such diverse personalities and different attitudes towards training, thrown in an upset win by Diaz a few months back, here we are. There are, however, a few scenarios more likely than others. Mcgregor has been training like a madman with Dillon Danis, a Jiu Jitsu phenom who specialises in a very attack based No-Gi style, a perfect training partner for a match up against a Diaz, and he’s also brought in some long reach boxers to emulate Diaz’s style.
Now, here’s what we know, McGregor has power in his hands, and no one’s chin lasts forever, Diaz took some shots in the first round, with Conor back in March, and he definitely took the first one. I think if Mcgregor wins it, it will be late on in the fight, it’s a five rounder, so cardio is key, a key game plan would be to attack Diaz’ lead leg, which he always leans heavy on while boxing, and body throughout the fight, tiring him to a point where his hands are more effective and probably ground and pounding him to finish in the fourth round, or late in the third. That’s IF Conor sticks to a game plan, and keeps his cool, something which he looks like he is incapable of doing at the minute. He may also look to score with the head kick after setting up body shots, as the only time Diaz has been KO’d is via a vicious head kick from Josh Thomson.
Diaz has a very similar path to the last fight I feel. He will take some punishment, or at least it will look like it as he has so much scar tissue on his face that it very easily splits open, if he keeps his boxing crisp and lures McGregor into swinging wildly again and gassing himself, that’s where he’ll see his opportunity, wind him up, swear at him, and keep peppering him with that sweet 1-2 until he folds. It may take a little longer this time as obviously, Mcgregor has made a key point of his conditioning being on form this time round, so maybe again the fourth round will be his winner. I think this time by TKO, I can see it going to the ground again, but Diaz choosing to sit on top and ground and pound it out till the ref waves it off.
Having said that, anything can happen in the fight game, which is what makes it so exciting, I can only hope that the chaos from the build up to the event is equal to the chaos throughout the fight! I’ll be on twitter throughout if you want to see my reaction! @rickofitall