UFC 196: McGregor v Diaz – Prediction
Background | UFC 196 Prediction
As we all know, this was scheduled to be Conor McGregor against current lightweight kingpin Rafael dos Anjos, in a fight where the trash-talking Irishman had the opportunity to become the first ever fighter to hold two UFC belts at the same time. However, to the chagrin of many Dos Anjos broke his foot, and this fight had to be cobbled together at the last minute as the new main event.
As a result of Diaz’s inability to make the 155lb limit on such short notice, this fight will be taking place at 170lbs, a full 25lbs above the division upon which McGregor reigns.
I can’t foresee this being a problem for McGregor – he’s a ridiculously over-sized featherweight, and to be honest there’s a strong possibility he’ll never fight at that weight class again. It’s more telling for Nate Diaz though; if he was in good shape, making 155 (or possibly a catch-weight of slightly more than that) would be well within his powers. The last time Nate Diaz came into a fight heavy was his penultimate fight against Dos Anjos, where having missed weight he looked completely ineffective in losing a wide decision and was dominated on the feet and the ground.
He’s already going out in press conferences and preemptively making the excuse that he didn’t have a camp, so it’s unlikely that we’re going to see him anywhere near his best.
Styles | UFC 196 Prediction
The fight for McGregor seems to start well before the opening bell. He has used his ridiculous charisma to intimidate his opponents through continual verbal jousting at every opportunity, as well as inspiring a swarm of fervent Irish fight fans to follow him and create the most hostile atmosphere possible.
As a result of this, we’ve seen many fighters look visibly nervous against him, most notably Jose Aldo last time out.
As for the actual fighting side of things, McGregor speaks of his style as a marriage of precision, movement and power. His kicking game is a combination of flashy spins which don’t really serve to land, but rather to set the distance, as well as vicious body kicks which suck the air out of the opposition as the fight goes on. His movement is unorthodox, but pressuring and continually aggressive.
He doesn’t seem to mind getting hit, owing to a belief that he hits harder than anyone in the weight class. This was almost certainly true at featherweight, but perhaps going forward this will be a concern. However, McGregor’s most “notorious” technique is the counter straight left, which we’ve yet to see anyone survive.
McGregor’s takedown defence against elite opposition, and indeed his ground game, is still somewhat of a mystery. We know that Chad Mendes took him down several times in their fight, and McGregor was reduced to holding on and hoping for a referee stand-up. However, he claims that going into that fight he was unable to train wrestling defence owing to a knee injury. Nobody else has managed a takedown against him in the UFC, so it must be reasonable.
Diaz isn’t exactly a wrestling savant, so if there is a slight weakness there he’s most likely not the man to exploit it. The only time we’ve seen his ground game offensively is the Max Holloway fight, where he tore his ACL early on and was still able to win the fight by scoring several takedowns and controlling his opponent from top position.
Striking-wise, Nate Diaz’s modus operandi is to use his long reach to chip away at his opponent with a high volume assault of jabs and body shots. He keeps a very high pace, and much like McGregor isn’t above taunting his opponents in the cage to try and get them to fight his fight. This strategy was recently on show in his 4/1 underdog win against Michael Johnson, who he managed to taunt into throwing undisciplined power shots and gassing himself out.
However, even though he does set a vicious pace, he himself is not especially quick nor a great athlete. His footwork is fairly rudimentary, and he is very “hittable”. He seems to view leg kicks as an occupational hazard rather than something he can defend effectively. As such, quicker and more disciplined opponents can get in and out against him provided they don’t get sucked into his game.
Diaz isn’t a strong wrestler, but seems to excel with clinch fighting, where he’s able to land knees, elbows and short punches owing to being the bigger man more often than not. From this position, he likes to use hip throws and trips to get the fight to the mat. Defensively, his takedown defence is decent and possibly under-rated, but owing to the strength of his ground game it’s not a disaster if the fight hits the floor against most opponents.
On the mat, Nate is a constant attacker from top and bottom position, as eight UFC submission victories would indicate. He can be held down and out-muscled by top class opposition, but I highly doubt McGregor would risk it as it’s surely Diaz’s easiest route to victory.
UFC 196 Prediction
Honestly, I hope Nate Diaz comes in in as good shape as possible, because it’s going to be intriguing to see how McGregor reacts to a taller fighter with a longer reach. I think his style may be more cautious than any time we’ve seen him in the past, on that basis. McGregor is going to want to keep this fight at kicking range, which he should be able to do as he’ll be quicker, and most likely the stronger man. Diaz is tough, but this is a five round fight, and eventually the lack of a training camp is going to catch up to him.
Conor McGregor to win via KO/TKO at 1.44 with Paddy Power
Miller -v- Sanchez: Fight of the Night at 10/1 with Bet Victor
- Miller = 4 Fight of the night awards from 21 fights.
- Sanchez = 7 Fight of the night awards from 22 fights, including 4 out of his last 8.
No way this is 10/1 come fight night.
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