Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz.

Explained: The tactical masterplan Conor McGregor used to defeat Nate Diaz

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Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz's five-round brawl in Las Vegas on Saturday night was an instant UFC classic.

Both fighters put everything into the UFC 202 bout. However, as is the nature of the sport, there had to be a winner and a loser, and it was 'The Notorious One' who came out on top on judges' decision.

The result saw McGregor gain revenge on his rival five months after his UFC 196 defeat, but just how did he do it? Here are the four key tactics McGregor employed to make sure he came on top of the epic encounter...


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1) Attacking Diaz's lead leg

Nate Diaz is renowned for favouring, and attacking with, his lead leg in fights.

McGregor knew this, and made sure to target it from the off as he pounded, and landed, several kicks of his own to Diaz's lead leg in the first round.

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It gave the Irishman a strong start, and definitely had an effect on the Stockton, California native in the later stages of the bout too as McGregor combination of leg kicks and famed right and left hooks sapped Diaz's energy.

McGregor was so relentless with leg kicks, that many believed he had actually broken his foot as a result.

Check out the tactic in full swing below, around the 26 second mark...

2) Surviving the takedowns

McGregor's shock defeat in their first meeting came after being taken to the floor by Diaz - an expert in that environment - and succumbing to a rear naked choke hold.

Throughout Saturday night's fight, The Notorious One did everything in his power not to let his opponent get that opportunity again.

His tactics paid dividends too, as, his exceptional takedown defense meant there was only a brief moment in the third round where McGregor looked anywhere near getting into trouble on his back.

Skip to the 3 minute mark...

3) Not taking it to the floor on offense

In a similar vein, McGregor made a very clear decision not to take the fight to the floor when he was on the offensive.

His stand up game is amongst the best in the business, and he put his faith in beating Diaz on his feet - remaining in his comfort zone even when the opportunity arose to go to the ground like when he landed a knockdown punch in the first round.

"I didn't want to smother my work," McGregor said afterwards. "This time I was a lot more calculated."

The most obvious example comes around the 40 second mark in the below video.

4) Lasting longer

A lot has been made over the past few months about how McGregor was unable to compete with Diaz's ability to keep on going in their first match.

This time, McGregor lasted the distance with his relentless rival, and was able to go toe-to-toe with the American right up until the bell rang at the end of the fifth round.

The Irishman has been boasting about his increased cardio work in the lead up to the UFC 202 clash, and he wasn't exaggerating.

Diaz had taken the advantage at the end of the third round, but McGregor came right back into it in the fourth - remaining alert and fast as he dodged a number of Diaz offensive moves, whilst offering some of his own.

Well executed

Coming down to a judges' decision, there is no doubt that Diaz also put himself in a position to win in Las Vegas.

However, the smart, well-thought out and well-executed plan put in place by McGregor and his team meant he had the edge in what was a fight for the ages. Then again, when you spend $300,000 on your training camp, you probably expect those sort of results.

He was certainly happy to admit the masterplan had paid off when speaking after the bout.

With fight number three likely to happen down the line, both stars will have to come up with a new game plan if they want to take the 2-1 series win. For now, though, we should sit back and appreciate the tactical masterclass that was put on over the weekend.

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Dana White
Nate Diaz
Conor McGregor
Ronda Rousey

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