Conor McGregor is not an unknown. Outside of Ronda Rousey, he is the highest paid fighter within the UFC and is easily one of the most followed and talked about fighters on the planet. He is a man that talks the talk, walks the walk and comes to fight. Until the one time he didn't. Most fans let their imaginations run wild when they heard he was going up a weight class to fight Rafael dos Anjos. When dos Anjos pulled out and Conor went from 155 lbs to 170 lbs to fight Nate Diaz, people went mad. Fans started believing, he could easily beat Robbie Lawler, who, at the time, was the 170 lb champ. Fans were even thinking that he might be able to fight the guys at 185!
All of this wishful thinking was erased as he got beat by Nate Diaz. Diaz is a fighter who had to start fighting at 155 because he was getting smushed by the guys at 170. So here, based on what we've seen and what we know, are the 8 reasons Conor crushes Nate Diaz in a rematch and the 8 reasons he plays patty cake with the mat going into this headlining revenge fight at UFC 202.
16 Crushed: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
Ol' Magic Mac can bring in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu submission machine Dillon Danis and he can soak up tons of knowledge and tricks from an absolute beast of the BJJ world. However, unless Conor has found a way to slow down time, so that he can get thousands of hours of mat time in the span of a month or so, there is no way his BJJ will be anywhere near the level of Nate Diaz, who is a legitimate Cesar Gracie BJJ Black Belt. This is still an MMA fight and there is no Gi, but even in that world, Diaz has been tapping people on the ground at a level that Conor is no where near capable of replicating.
15 Conquers: Conor's Hands
There is no doubt, that in the first round, McGregor swatted Nate around the ring in a way that showed everyone the huge difference in their skill level. Conor is an exceptionally skilled martial artist. His ability to utilize his body is abnormal. Seeing him move is like watching a yogi master. His hands flow with a combination of speed and power that is rare for MMA fighters to have.
Conor moves out of range, bobs and weaves, has a high percentage for shots landed and attacks from multiple angles, similar to someone like Pacquiao. All fighters think they could beat a boxer in a boxing match. Conor is one of the few that would do alright against some boxers in the world (not the elite ones, obviously).
14 Crushed: The Weight Isn't Right
This fight would be a lot better at 155 pounds, as Conor has a much better chance of beating Nate at 155 then 170. First, people should know this about Conor: he is huge. How he made the weight cut to 145 is a mystery akin to whether or not that are other forms of life beyond our world. Despite Conor being huge compared to everyone he has fought, Nate has fought at 170 for years, then went down to 155 because people were tossing him around at that class.
On the other hand, Conor fought at 145 and jumped up to 170 in about six weeks. It would be better for Conor if he went up only one weight class and Nate came down (or stayed where he was already fighting). Despite the fact that Conor is physically huge, Nate Diaz is also much bigger than you'd think. Much, much bigger.
13 Conquers: Conor's Feet
Few people can comprehend, and even fewer will ever be able to replicate, the way Conor uses his body. When you watch Kung-Fu movies and the hero does a side kick to someone's face and holds their leg in the air, most people think that no one can do that in real life. Well, Conor can do that and he does it in fights. If you're one of the people who thinks that's easy, stand up right now and stick your leg straight out to the side, raise it to your eye level and hold it there. I'm a marathon runner and teach Muay Thai classes, and I still can't do it.
After you likely fail at this exercise, imagine someone doing what you just failed at, but at your head, at your legs and then doing spinning back kicks with insane control and accuracy. Scary.
12 Crushed: To Many Media Obligations
Mystic Mac, who loves to predicts the future of his fights, is fairly entertaining on the mic. McGregor sits in front of cameras and gives people a hero to believe in, which is wonderful, but that fame has come with more and more obligations. At this stage, I have no idea how Conor is training at all with how many cameras are shoved in his face and obligations he is supposed to keep. I've seen him in Boston and he'd spend three hours doing Radio, two hours doing local spots, then a few hours doing UFC and national spots, before he was supposed to go train and cut weight. All of this attention is both a blessing and a curse, as he fought to get this attention, but, now that he has it, I imagine he wishes he could shut it off. Hence, why they took him off UFC 200 because he refused to do media.
11 Conquers: Accustomed To The Weight
With the move up to 170 pounds, McGregor probably felt stronger and better than ever. He got to walk into the fight without starving himself for a week and dehydrating his kidneys, but he only got to train for two weeks with that weight. Training is different than fighting. While I am sure he trained hard, he was in the final stages of preparation, which is normally where people start tapering their workouts. The fact that an extra 15 pounds was added onto him in a week likely threw his cardio off. If you don't believe me, put on a 20 pound vest and do sprints for 15 straight minutes. The good news is that Conor is likely used to that weight now and he is hopefully accustomed to using his body with this extra 25 pounds. He won't gas out after five minutes this time.
10 Crushed: Traveling And The Timezones
For his recent fights, Conor has trained with all of his team in Las Vegas. Sure it was a problem, as he was only home in Ireland a month or so, but he was in America and fighting and training in this time zone. That helped, as he was acclimated to this weather, this food and everything that comes with being somwhere completely different. There is a reason that some national soccer teams show up to a World or Euro Cup venue two or so weeks before a big tournament. Acclimation is huge. Home court advantage is huge. For this fight, Conor has trained back home. That's wonderful and all, until he gets off a plane a week before the fight with a nine hour time zone change. On top of the time change, he'll be leaving balmy Ireland and for the 'why am I alive' Las Vegas heat. It won't be easy.
9 Conquers: Training For This Fight
In 1993, MMA was essentially the wild, wild west. You showed up and you fought someone. You just went there to fight and it happened. Now, fighters train for months for their fights and they not only prepare physically, but mentally, as they develop a game plan, then a back up plan, and then a back up to the back up plan for a specific opponent. A year before the Diaz fight, Conor McGregor found out he was fighting Chad Mendes on short notice and said, "It doesn't matter, they're all the same." He found out with Diaz that all fighters are not the same. Now, he's had the chance to train with bigger people, people with reach, people with a stronger BJJ background, people with cardio, and people to help him prepare for a fight against Nate Diaz, as he is fighting Nate Diaz, not Jose Aldo, Rafael dos Anjos or whoever else has pulled out on him before.
8 Crushed: Cardio Won't Keep Up
Conor is in great shape, but being a giant compared to other 145 pound fighters and one of the best in the world, few people have been able to hang with him in a fight for more than ten minutes. His punches hurt people, but they hurt people in his weight class and maybe the one above it. Yeah, he can knockout anyone with the right shot, but it's much harder for him to knockout someone known for taking damage and dragging people into the deep water of a fight. The longer the fight goes, the weaker his punches will get. Once that happens, his movement and power will go and he'll be a sitting duck against the triathlete Nate Diaz.
7 Conquers: Focus, Focus, Focus
This fight was supposed to happen at UFC 200, but Conor McGregor decided to take his life back and said he didn't want to fly all around the world doing press obligations. He said he wanted to train for the fight, not do a bunch of other stuff that might affect his focus. Yes, it got him pulled, but while Nate Diaz was out shaking babies and kissing hands, Conor was in the gym getting ready to fight. The more focus he puts on this fight and the less focus he puts on talk shows and posing for pictures, the better the odds of winning are. We'd bet that he'll continue to do press, but he's doing a lot less than he did for his last fight.
6 Crushed: Training Will Be A Factor For Both Fighters This Time
No one doubts that Conor McGregor is a better boxer than Nate Diaz. Without question, he is the more technical and dynamic striker, but, for the last fight, Nate Diaz was on a boat drinking tequila in Mexico and got asked to come to Vegas. He got on a plane and, two weeks later, he beat the unbeatable McGregor, who had been training for months. Sure there was a bit of a weight gain for Conor, as he went from 155 to 170, but Diaz likely had to drop weight before that fight. He was probably doing more shots than push ups a month before the fight, but still came in and beat McGregor.
5 Conquers: Josh Thompson
Conor McGregor is a better fighter than Josh Thompson. And Josh Thompson is a good fighter that happens to be very injury prone. But Josh Thompson beat Nate Diaz in essentially the way that Conor should look to emulate. With Conor used to dealing with Nate's size and being able to use his skillset, Conor on his worst day is the equivalent of Josh Thompson (despite being a better wrestler) at his best. We could have said dos Anjos or Rory McDonald as they both also beat Nate, but both of those guys fight much, much differently than McGregor.
4 Crushed: Grit
I am not trying to say that McGregor breaks easy. But fatigue makes cowards out of everyone. When Conor fought Chad Mendes, Mendes was also coming in with little training and McGregor laughed off his best shots. Then he crushed him. When he fought, Aldo he showed how great his hands and movements are and won within seconds. But when he fought Nate, he threw everything he had at him and, when it didn't work, he got sloppy. Once he got tagged with a punch and was put in a bad spot, he got desperate and went for a takedown. So he is breakable and it's been shown that when he is dragged into the deep water like any human, he will panic and he will drown.
3 Conquers: Facial Scars
In their first fight, Conor attacked Nate's face for five minutes. He outboxed him, bloodied him and more or less swatted him around the room. Nate knew the best way for him to win the fight was to let Conor punch himself out. A better trained, focused, and patient Conor can crush Diaz. Take a moment to watch the highlights from their first fight again. You can see Nate getting upset with himself for taking shot after shot and doing nothing to stop it. None of those shots hurt him in a fight ending way, but if they keep coming and the power stays behind each punch, Nate may also fall into desperate takedown mode and Conor can change angles and end the fight.
2 Crushed: Nate Diaz
This is both the best and worst reasons for McGregor. Nate won the first fight and when asked about it, his response was, "I'm not surprised mother f******."
This time, Conor knows exactly what he is getting into. Conor knows that Nate brings high pressure boxing, the ability to absorb damage, and defensive grappling that turns offensive. What that means in that, Nate doesn't shoot for takedowns, but waits to get taken down and looks for sweeps or submissions, which is how he's won 12 of his 19 victories. But right now, according to Nate's boxing coach, Nate is walking around at around 190-200lbs. Nate and his brother Nick are known for having cardio that no one else can compete with and currently Conor, who lost to an out of shape Nate Diaz, is fighting an in shape and very determined Nate Diaz. McGregor wasn't able to beat him when he was fighting at 50%, iso t's hard to assume things will go differently the second time around. And if Conor thinks he will just keep crushing people at 170, look at how well Nate Diaz did against Rory McDonald. Think about that.
1 Conquers: Conor McGregor And Obsession
We've listed why he can win from a technical standpoint in the previous entries, but his absolute obsession with this fight is why he will win. He went back to Ireland. He closed himself off. He is putting his nightmares, his anger and his pride into this fight. Meanwhile Nate has been walking around with a larger bank account and those distractions are not a good thing going into this fight. Not much else is going through Conor's mind right now outside of fighting Nate Diaz.
I think the obsession and the madness of never wanting to lose like that again have made an already dangerous person absolutely terrifying. Nate is better at BJJ. He always will be. Conor is better at everything else. Fighting at the same weight and being prepared this time, Conor will be much better at UFC 202 and will use his obsession to drive him.