After weeks and weeks of rumours and constant speculation over who the ‘Notorious’ would fight next, we find ourselves back where we started.
Diaz vs McGregor 2, had a very negative response when it was first announced for UFC 200 back in March but now, after all the drama that has ensued, it suddenly has a new appeal.
On March 5th Nate Diaz handed McGregor his first loss in the UFC by submitting him in the second round.
The first began as many believed it would, with McGregor controlling the distance and landing punches at will. As the opening round drew to a close the only surprise was that Diaz was still fresh, despite the cut above his eye.
Of course, Diaz wasn’t surprised, nor were his loyal fan base, but the ‘Notorious’ certainly was and appeared to be drained from it. The second round continued where the first had left off with McGregor seemingly picking apart Diaz but the 31-year-old just kept coming, rather unfazed.
Suddenly McGregor was visibly gassed and a combination followed by a clean left hook stunned the featherweight champ. A couple of exchanges later it was the Irishman who shot on Diaz, becoming a ‘panic wrestler’ – a term used so often by the ‘Notorious’. The finish came shortly after, with Diaz showing off his stunning Jiu Jitsu skills.
So how does McGregor change so much in just five months?
There are still three major question marks ahead of this highly anticipated rematch:
Has McGregor’s Jiu Jitsu improved?
Five months is, unfortunately, not enough time to be even close to competing with Diaz, who has dedicated most of his life to the art.
Is he capable of knocking out Diaz?
Again, Diaz ate the best McGregor had to offer and didn’t seem the slightest bit phased. While McGregor will always have a chance of one punch connecting, it appears as though Diaz, notorious for his ability to take a punch, won’t succumb to the Dublin native’s striking power.
Will his cardio be better?
This one is impossible to call. The only time we have seen McGregor go past the second round in his career was the Max Holloway fight, for which he looked good in the third round even on one leg. A question mark remains over McGregor being a two-round fighter. Diaz on the other hand runs triathlons for fun, literally.
The only safe way for McGregor to gain victory is to out-point the cardio machine, using his superior boxing skills and be extremely economical with his output. The Dubliner needs to throw a high enough volume of punches and teeps to wear down the body of Diaz and control the distance – no flashy spinning back kicks or capoeira kicks. For the 27-year-old to beat his Stockton foe he will have to show a level of discipline we haven’t seen from him before.
To beat a man with a chin made of granite, knockout punching power, a reach and size advantage, with endless cardio and heart you have to get back to basics. Great champions aren’t always the most exciting fighters on the planet, but they do what they have to in order to win. Just look at GSP, Demetrious Johnson and Dominick Cruz. They might not finish you but they’ll outclass you.
The real question is, can McGregor get back to basics?
Paul O’Dea, Pundit Arena