UFC 202 saw both Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz etch themselves into the annals of MMA history after a remarkable five round war.
As arguably the most anticipated rematch in the sport to date, Conor McGregor vs. Nate Diaz II had a lot to live up to.
Questions swirled before tonight’s epic renewal around Conor McGregor’s cardio, along with Diaz now having a full fight camp to prepare, rather than eleven days. Would ‘The Notorious’ adjust his gameplan this time around to contend better with Diaz’s cast-iron chin?
Having loaded up on his famed left hand in the first bout, McGregor indeed changed course this time around, employing liberal amounts of leg kicks in order to stall the larger Nate Diaz.
Conor even earned a knockdown in a dominant first round.
The timeline of this fight aped that of its predecessor – McGregor dominated the first eight minutes, but matters took a turn for the worse, as Conor began to slow down rapidly. Again.
Though the Irishman earned two further knockdowns in the second stanza, thereby winning the round, Nate’s late onslaught saw a momentum shift that struck fear into the hearts of the Irish faithful.
Round three continued in that vein, with Diaz now finding his range and imposing himself on McGregor against the fence. It was along that the Stockton favourite had by far the most of his success, and Diaz very nearly forced through a stoppage just before the bell.
Conor appeared to have returned to no man’s land yet again.
The fourth round would likely dictate who would become the victor, and McGregor got a timely second wind. A crucial and perhaps overlooked aspect to the featherweight champion’s win was his impressive grappling, particularly his takedown defence. Training with the larger Dillon Danis reaped dividends, as Conor repeatedly stuffed the takedown attempts of his foe, and managed to reverse some of the clinch positions while being pressed against the Octagon.
Though a 10-9 win in the fifth wouldn’t suffice for Nate in order to win, there was more than enough damage inflicted for him to believe that a stoppage was possible.
McGregor once again was breathing heavy – only making it past the second round once in all of his 22 previous fights couldn’t prepare him for the “hardest day of his life”.
Regardless, he dug deep and didn’t panic as he did first time around in a fatigue-induced frenzy. Diaz prevailed in the last five minutes, and it was left to the judges to determine who would get the nod.
Decision: Conor McGregor by Majority Decision (48-47, 48-47, 47-47)
The general consensus is that Conor McGregor edged it by winning rounds 1, 2 and 4, with Diaz garnering rounds 3 and 5. The latter’s dominance in the third led to one judge awarding him a 10-8 round, which evened up the scores.
The cruel nature of the sport means that McGregor will go down in the history books as the triumphant victor, while Nate Diaz is technically classified as the loser. His rival, however, would readily disagree with that moniker, and talks of a trilogy have already gathered pace.
Count us in.