“I’m not going to get somewhere and say, ‘OK, I’m done.’ Success is never final; I’ll just keep on going. The same way as failure never being fatal. Just keep going. I’m going to the stars and then past them.”- Conor McGregor.
UFC 196 was and remains one of the great nights in UFC history, not only because of Miesha Tate upsetting Holly Holm, the former 18 time boxing champion who upset the seemingly unstoppable Ronda Rousey four months earlier at UFC 193, not only because Amanda Nunes and Valentina Shevchenko also fought on the card, showcasing a preview of the talent they possessed and they had the abilities to also upset Miesha Tate and Holly Holm only months later, not only because Diego Sanchez and Jim Miller went to war in the Fight Pass preliminaries before the pay-per-view.
The card became especially one of the great nights in UFC history because it featured a matchup between an unstoppable force and the immovable object.
“They say I talk and I talk but guess fucking what? I back it up, I back it up”- Conor McGregor
Smooth talking, brash, bold and confident, Irishman Conor McGregor was on a seven fight win streak in the UFC. His momentum came at the expense of featherweight contenders like Chad Mendes, Dennis Siver and Dustin Poirier which culminated in the knockout of longtime Brazilian featherweight king, Jose Aldo inside of 13 seconds.
Conor McGregor’s left hand was a weapon that put esteemed prize fighters to sleep but almost as gifted in the gift of jab, he also possessed the gift of gab. Conor McGregor is known for his trash talking before the fights, getting into their heads and making them ultra-aggressive inside the Octagon before punishing them with his movement, precision and deadly left hand.
His fight with Jose Aldo perfectly illustrated his methods as he went in the lion’s den in Brazil and insulted the country and Aldo leaving the Brazilian seething and hungry for blood. In Ireland, the Irish fans as well as McGregor jeered at Aldo and let it be known that he was not welcome in the country leaving Aldo visibly flustered.
During the title fight, Aldo came out of the gates guns blazing and attacked Conor with a monster left hook which Conor responded with a counter left hook of his own leaving the Brazilian who had held the belt for five years on the mat and the world in shock.
Conor McGregor made it clear that he didn’t want to defend his featherweight belt but move up to the lightweight division and challenge the champion at that division, Rafael Dos Anjos but Dos Anjos pulled out of the fight a few weeks before with a foot injury and in stepped perennial contender, Nate Diaz to challenge him but the fight would be at welterweight.
“He better hope he gets that knockout otherwise he’s going to get a fucked up night for him.”-Nate Diaz
Nate Diaz is one half of the UFC’s bad boys, the Diaz brothers. A master of mental warfare in his own right, Diaz was known for his good boxing ability, his ability to absorb punishment and possessing a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt under Cesar Gracie. After sitting out a year, Diaz returned to the Octagon in 2015 to face fourth ranked contender, Michael Johnson. After winning a one sided decision, Nate Diaz called out Conor McGregor for fighting people that were smaller than he was and proclaimed himself as the fighter that could derail the McGregor hype train.
On only eleven days’ notice after Dos Anjos pulled out, Diaz took the fight with McGregor but at lightweight because of his lack of time to cut weight. During the fight, McGregor came out swinging with the same mammoth left hands that made featherweights look like they didn’t belong months before but Nate Diaz took Conor’s biggest shots and marched forward. Into the second round, McGregor looked like he used up a lot of the gas in his tank chasing the knockout to get Diaz out of there.
Sensing McGregor’s lack of cardiovascular endurance, Diaz marched forward and hit the featherweight great with a mixture of combinations and the dreaded Stockton slap rocking him with a stiff jab. Conor McGregor shot for a takedown where Nate Diaz -jitsu ability was highlighted by taking the Irishman’s back and submitting him with a rear naked choke.
After the performance of his life, Joe Rogan asked Nate how he picked up the victory and he answered in the most Nate Diaz of ways “I’m not surprised, motherfuckers.”
“I’ve simply prepared more specific. I usually don’t prepare for a specific opponent. This time I’m preparing for a tall, lanky, ugly Mexican southpaw.”- Conor McGregor
These two great fighters have decided to run back the clock, Conor McGregor with the belief that he was simply inefficient with his energy and he will prepare specifically for Nate Diaz this time around, bringing in southpaw fighters that are bigger than he is.
Nate Diaz on the other hand believes that he can finish Conor McGregor faster this time around with because he defeated him at UFC 196 with only eleven days to prepare all the while picking up the paycheck that comes from fighting a fighter with the publicity of Conor McGregor’s caliber.
On August 20 at UFC 202, these two fighters who couldn’t be more dissimilar, one with fearsome knockout power, the other more renowned for his submission acumen, one from Stockton, California, the other from Dublin, Ireland will prepare to do it all over again.
One thing is for sure, the battle will not start inside the Octagon with both known for looking to gain an advantage over the other with their abilities with a microphone in their face. McGregor-Diaz 2. Who do you have?