Was Nate Diaz the right fight for Conor McGregor at UFC 200?

UFC 196: McGregor v Diaz

Why did Conor McGregor get a rematch against Nate Diaz?

I mean, we know the numbers make sense, but this fight has the potential to destroy McGregor's MMA career. 

In their last bout at UFC 196, McGregor started off well, but really seemed to struggle with Diaz's size and grappling. It is no secret that Conor does not have the most sound of grappling games, something Chad Mendes showed us, but he still went into the fight as a heavy favourite. 


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Nate Diaz is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and trains under Renzo Gracie, a world renowned Brazilian Jiu Jitsu coach. The fight was always going to be a total mismatch as soon as it got to the ground. 

But that should not be what worries McGregor and his coach John Kavanagh, what should worry them is Diaz landed a fairly normal combination and it rocked Conor. Diaz is not known for his knockout power, because he's not a very powerful puncher. 

Conor threw everything he could at Nate, but he could not knock him out. In the post-fight press conference, McGregor said he went into "panic mode" when he realised that his shots were not going to drop Diaz.

Any MMA fan who has been following the sport properly will tell you that Nick and Nate Diaz have some of the best chins in the business.

UFC 196: McGregor v Diaz

It would have been a bigger surprise to me if Nate got knocked out as opposed to Conor. This almost neutralises the famous left hand of McGregor's which was rendered ineffective when it was landing on Nate's chin. 

The key

The last man to really dominate Diaz was the man Conor McGregor was meant to fight at UFC 196, Rafael Dos Anjos.

The Brazilian threw kick after kick at Nate's legs. His legs were totally demolished in that fight. It was as dominating as his performances against Anthony Pettis and Donald Cerrone. That's the blueprint McGregor is going to have to use if he is to stand any chance come UFC 200.

UFC Fight Night

Diaz has been called out a lot about how heavy he stands on his front leg, particularly in the striking exchanges. 

Other options

This brings me onto other potential opponents McGregor could have had at UFC 200. The general feeling from most experts was that McGregor should go back down to 145 and defend his featherweight title.

Fights against Frankie Edgar, Jose Aldo and Max Holloway all seemed to be a likelihood, but McGregor's need for revenge and the potential numbers that this fight could bring in for the UFC meant Diaz got preference.

UFC 179: Aldo v Mendes 2

The poster-boy of modern MMA will always get his way. Edgar and Aldo are penned in for an interim featherweight title shot, with the winner looking likely to go on and face McGregor in a unification belt, potentially during the autumn.

Both of these fighters represent a very different challenge for McGregor.

A rematch with Aldo would have sold, and it would have almost certainly been closer than their first, 13 second bout. 

Jose Aldo was a champion for 10 years and is one of the most technically gifted fighters in all of mixed martial arts. His striking is world class and his Jiu Jitsu is off the charts. Many feel that if Aldo could get McGregor to the ground, he'd make Conor tap, but the problem lies with Aldo's chin and cardio. 

Aldo is often called the best two round fighter of all time, because of how he usually dominates for the first two rounds, then cruises the last three. Conor has a style that does not allow the Brazilian to follow what has given him such success for a decade. I believe in a rematch, Conor would knock Aldo out.

UFC 194: Aldo vs. McGregor

Frankie Edgar on the other hand, can throw down with McGregor and hold his own in a striking exchange, but he has the grappling to seriously trouble the Irishman.

This fight was the one people were labelling as potentially the hardest of Conor's career, prior to Diaz.

Edgar, stylistically, matches up with McGregor well. He's got good hands and he's a good wrestler which Conor has struggled with. But then the left hand McGregor throws at 145 can put every single fighter in that division to sleep. I would again, expect Conor to knock Frankie out.

The biggest draw of all would have been Champion vs Champion. Titan vs Titan. Dos Anjos vs McGregor.

UFC 185: Pettis vs Dos Anjos

Rafael Dos Anjos was meant to fight McGregor at UFC 196, but pulled out due to a broken foot. We all know how the Irish star went on to lose at 170 pounds to Diaz.

Dos Anjos is potentially the worst fight for Conor's style. He has a great chin, he's got incredible Jiu Jitsu, impressive wrestling, world class Muay Thai and leg kicks that light heavyweights would struggle to take.

This was a fight I did not see McGregor winning. I thought the pressure Dos Anjos would put on him would be too much and he'd eventually make a mistake, leading to Dos Anjos winning by TKO. 

Conor McGregor is a machine. He has revolutionised mixed martial arts, but he is not invincible. This next Nate Diaz bout represents real problems for him and he will have serious questions he may not be able to answer.

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