Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweights (sorta) Nate Diaz and Conor McGregor will clash once more TONIGHT (Aug. 20, 2016) at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Nate Diaz has certainly had some ups-and-downs in his long UFC career, but he’s undoubtedly on the strongest upswing yet. By smacking Mac down a few months back, Diaz made himself a star, and now he’s looking to prove that he’s the better man once more.
Meanwhile, McGregor may have lost that odd Welterweight bout to a short-notice Diaz, but he’s intent on showing that he’s the superior martial artist. It’s not clear whether or not McGregor has the ability to overcome all that’s stacked against him, but it seems that the Irishman has put it all on the line to find out.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for both men:
Key Wins: Conor McGregor (UFC 196), Michael Johnson (UFC on FOX 17), Donald Cerrone (UFC 141), Jim Miller (UFC on FOX 3)
Key Losses: Raphael dos Anjos (UFC on FOX 13), Josh Thomson (UFC on FOX 7), Ben Henderson (UFC on FOX 5)
Keys to Victory: Diaz is a lanky jiu-jitsu specialist and boxer with an unrelenting pace. He never stops attacking and chipping away at his opponents, which has led to 16 victories via finish.
Including his upset victory opposite McGregor last time around.
It's hard to give Diaz a game plan besides the one he utilized last time. If It worked when he was out of shape and ill-prepared, there's little reason to change it up against his smaller opponent.
What Diaz did so well in the last bout was to manage to distance and keep McGregor working. From the beginning of the bout, Diaz hung around outside of McGregor's range, pecking at the Featherweight champion but forcing McGregor to exhaust himself pushing inside.
Additionally, Diaz would purposefully chose to get in close and clinch with McGregor. That's another area Diaz excels in, and he can also make full use of his size advantage to bully "The Notorious" and further tire him out.
Either way, Diaz was landing at an efficient pace while McGregor had to work very hard. To further build on that, I would like to see Diaz catch more kicks and commit more to the wrestling game, as he's such a talented grappler it would be a smart path to victory for him.
Key Wins: Jose Aldo (UFC 194), Chad Mendes (UFC 189), Dustin Poirier (UFC 178)
Key Losses: Nate Diaz (UFC 196)
Keys to Victory: McGregor is one of the finest strikers in mixed martial arts (MMA). He's equally effective on offense and the counter, possesses a dynamic left hand, and some wild kicking techniques.
From day one, this has been a difficult match up for McGregor.
In order to defeat the younger Diaz brother, McGregor has two potential paths to victory. Many expect McGregor to pace himself in a rematch, as the Irishman tries to pick his opponent apart and win a decision or score a late stoppage.
On the other hand, there's always the chance that McGregor flattens Diaz with a massive punch.
In general, working a disciplined strategy rather than hunting for the finish is a smart plan, but I don't think it works here. It's simply very unlikely that McGregor can consistently out-strike the bigger, more conditioned fighter with superior grappling skills.
That's an absurdly tough task across five rounds.
Instead, the pressure should be on McGregor to finish Diaz. He landed some devastating blows last time around, and this time he will be able to plan for Diaz's striking style.
Perhaps that will change everything.
Bottom Line: It’s a rematch of the biggest fight of the year.
This is Diaz’s payday, but it’s more than that. If Diaz shuts down McGregor a second time, he’s on a three-fight win streak and riding a massive wave of momentum. There’s a decent chance he receives an immediate title shot. If not, he’s right on the cusp once again.
That said, a loss would hurt Diaz’s position in the division. He’d still be a much bigger star than he once was because of this whole McGregor saga, but he would no longer be in the immediate title picture.
Meanwhile, this is McGregor’s shot at redemption. Though the bizarre circumstances of the first match seemed to favor him, they were still bizarre. This time around — for better or worse — there can be no real excuses from either fighter. Win or lose, it’s high time for McGregor to return to 145 pounds and defend his title.
TONIGHT at UFC 202, Nate Diaz and Conor McGregor will throw down in a highly anticipated rematch. Which fighter will have his hand raised?