ufc 202 Diaz vs McGregor 2: Writers Have Their Riff
Mick’s scribes give their thoughts on this weekends massive UFC 202 card. Headlined by the much anticipated welterweight rematch between Nate Diaz and Conor McGregor.
Before UFC 196, a lot of people thought Conor McGregor was invincible. He had drawn an army of new eyes to the sport and had already solidified himself as the top PPV draw in the company. Against Jose Aldo, McGregor drew 1.2 million buys, moving UFC 194 into 2nd place of all time behind UFC 100. At UFC 196, he bumped that into third, as the 1.5 million buys place it just 100,000 behind UFC 100 and the PPV machine that is Brock Lesnar. And he was rewarded for this with the first-ever declared $1,000,000 purse in Octagon history. That’s where the success story comes to a grinding halt.
A long-time favourite of the hardcore fans, Nate Diaz stepped in for the injured Rafael Dos Anjos on 11 days notice, and after riding out an initial storm, proceeded to hurt Conor on the feet and submit him comprehensively in the 2nd round.
Following that, McGregor refused to fulfil his contractual promotional duties for the mooted UFC 200 rematch. Retired, unretired and probably altered his relationship with UFC president Dana White forever.
Just over a month later, all is forgiven and we’re finally all set to for the rematch. Nathan Diaz vs Conor McGregor in a Welterweight bout headlining UFC 202. Much like the first fight, most people are only seeing this one as going one way. Unlike the first fight, this time it’s Nate Diaz who is the overwhelming favourite amongst almost everyone I’ve spoken to. Diaz is on a full camp, fighting for the biggest purse of his career; and with the Diaz brothers being so notoriously money-motivated could be an even more dangerous proposition.
However, as I wrote in the build-up to 196, this is far from one-sided. Conor is in a position we have never seen him in his Octagon career, fighting for his reputation, his relevancy, and crucially his legacy. Nate’s star is finally rising in the way he deserves it too, but a motivated Conor McGregor on the hunt for redemption is an intriguing prospect that has brewed UFC 202 into the perfect storm.
Firstly, I need to get this out of the way: I’m not anticipating Diaz McGregor as much as many seem to be. I just can’t help but think it goes the same way as the first, although it should be noted that I likely have a successful prediction rate of around 10%, so good luck Nate. Either way, I’m sure it’ll be a great fight as they’re both incredibly exciting fighters. Oh and let’s be honest, by the time Bruce Buffer is shouting ‘IT’S TIME’, I’ll probably be out of breath in excitement.
Now on to my personal favourite fight of the night, Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson vs. Glover Teixeira. This is a wonderful clash of styles. ‘Rumble’ will pour forward with violence intentions but Teixeira has the technical boxing to make him pay if he gets too wild. The fight could be decided by what Johnson we see, against Davis he was calm and paced himself. That Johnson may almost unbeatable.
However, if he gets overaggressive as he did against Cormier, Teixeira could land a knockout blow on the inside or simply try to weather the heavy storm. Whichever way you look at it, expect thrills. Johnson is simply must-see due to his capability to end the fight at any second and Teixeira has all the tools to trouble any light heavyweight on earth. Get your popcorn ready for this one.
Also on the main card is Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone’s clash with Rick Story. Cerrone is always fun to watch and looked phenomenal in his last outing against Patrick Cote. On the other hand, a win for Story here could earn him the recognition he’s been missing as of late. Many probably aren’t aware of how legitimate Story is at welterweight but he can change all of that on August 20th and don’t be surprised if he does just that.
Another interesting fight is the FOX Sports feature prelim as Cody Garbrandt looks to further his surging momentum against veteran Takeya Mizugaki.
Garbrandt is fresh off a huge first-round knockout win over fellow prospect Thomas Almeida and is edging towards a possible title shot. Mizugaki can really reignite his contender status with a win here but it looks a tough out for the Japanese fighter.
The fight that is flying under the radar though is the fight pass feature prelim of Neil Magny vs. Lorenz Larkin. This is a great matchup between two incredibly talented welterweights. Magny has length and consistency on his side but Larkin brings speed and flash that simply can’t be taught. Look for this one to excite the sparse Vegas crowd, especially if it stays on the feet.
I’m sure UFC 202 will be a blockbuster event that will be remembered for quite some time. I struggle to see how the top three fights can be anything but, at the very least, fun. It’s a card that also features some of the sport’s most memorable characters. The result of the main event will be the story on Sunday morning regardless of what anyone on the undercard does as people are so incredibly invested in the Diaz McGregor story. Whichever side you’re on, I simply implore you to enjoy the ride.
When Diaz vs Mcgregor 2 was first announced as the main event for UFC 200. The fact that such a huge card should be headlined by a fight which was originally a last-minute bandaid for UFC 196, which was in effect careering towards the rocks. Simply didn’t interest me.
I thought the fight should never have happened at welterweight in the first place. And just a few short months later, realising that Nate Diaz would now have full training camp behind him. In all honesty, I could not envisage a different outcome.
At welterweight, Conor has well and truly maxed out – weight-wise. If he packs on any more pounds there might have to be an intervention by those nearest and dearest to him, before things truly get out of hand. And he gets it into his head to call out the even bigger boys!
The UFC 200 Washout
After the UFC 200 came and went with somewhat of a whimper… The pre and post-fight shenanigans, adding to its intrigue. But the greatest card of all time minus Jon Jones, Nah!
Roll on just over a month and UFC 202 is staring us in the face. The main card rematch which I originally had little time for has finally found a home in my cold heart. McGregor while as brash and confident as ever, now also seems more focused and determined than ever before. Nate Diaz is the guy who took his shine, robbing him of an unbeaten run in the UFC many had already written the SBG man a cheque for.
With both men now having had a full camp and many months to prepare for that specific body type, without all the pre-UFC 196 chopping and changing. This time there’s a tension in the air which has been building since that battle a whole six UFC’s past. This time it’s different. And this time I cannot wait.
Let’s begin with Neil Magny vs. Lorenz Larkin, two guys that have a lot to gain from this fight. Since his UFC debut, Magny has gone 14(W)-3(L) in the promotion. One of his greatest assets is his willingness to improve. After losing his highly anticipated matchup against Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu superstar Demian Maia by submission.
Neil Magny attended one of Maia’s BJJ seminars in hopes to improve on his ground game. He is coming into this fight once again an evolved fighter. Additionally, his confidence going into the fight will be higher than ever as he’s coming off an incredible comeback victory over Hector Lombard, whom he finished in devastating fashion in the 3rd round via TKO.
His opponent, however, will be no easy task. Lorenz Larkin once defeated previous welterweight champion, Robbie Lawler, via unanimous decision under the Strikeforce banner. He’s also coming off an impressive performance against highly respected Jorge Masvidal whom he defeated via split decision.
However, I see this matchup favouring the up and coming Neil Magny. His crafty stand-up game and ever-improving ground game will ensure his hand being raised at UFC 202.
Anthony Johnson vs. Glover Teixeira
For some reason, this is the fight I’m most excited for. With the bull shit that’s been going on in the Light Heavyweight division, the fans need some good old fashion Anthony “Rumble” Johnson in their lives. All I want to see is Jon Jones fight, Anthony Johnson, for the LHW title (Sorry DC).
Is that too much to ask? It may be, because Glover Teixeira is an absolute monster, and has been on an absolute tear as of late. Coming off three consecutive finishes in the Octagon, Teixeira will look to bounce back into title contention, and with a win over Johnson, his name will definitely be in the mix.
But as we all know, Johnson could both literally and metaphorically one-punch KO Ivan Drago (yes that was a Rocky reference). And with great takedown defence, Teixeira will most likely have to stand and trade with the one they call Rumble. Though Teixeira has some very slick boxing of his own and definitely has the talent to win this fight, he will be one punch away from defeat at all times.
Nate Diaz vs. Conor McGregor
This fight has been beaten to death already so I won’t get into it. McGregor wins by TKO in the 3rd.
Nate Diaz: Moving the Needle
To my mind, the star-making turn for the latest incarnation of Nathan Diaz was not his brutal submission of the current featherweight champion under the Vegas lights in March. The moment in question instead occurred at Christmas 2015 during his 3 round decision win over LW contender Michael “The Menace” Johnson.
Johnson was hotly tipped to be next in line for a crack at then champ Anthony Pettis. All that stood in his way was Nate. Diaz, by comparison, was returning the sport after more than a year lay off – his last fight a veritable mauling at the hands of Rafael Dos Anjos, soon to have his own hands the very same belt.
In the run-up to the Dos Anjos fight, it was rumoured Diaz was fed up with the endless contract machinations of the UFC. It’s own president, Dana White was on record – dismissing Diaz as ‘not a needle mover’, in reference to his inability to help PPV buys catch fire. As if to prove White’s point, Nate came in 4 pounds overweight, and when Bruce Buffer called his name.
The Diaz that stepped to compete proceeded to have his lead leg kicked to pieces by a relentless RDA before being dumped and smashed repeatedly. He provided no real offence in a listless performance and ultimately added the fight to his loss column. By then he had dropped 8 of his last 15 fights, so when the decision went against him, it seemed to many that his long run in the company was at an end.
Nate had other ideas.
The man who approached the Octagon in December of last year (just a few days after Conor McGregor’s obliteration of Jose Aldo) immediately looked a different proposition. Gone was the excess body weight, Diaz looking as built and as lean as he had in nearly a decade with the promotion. It soon became clear that the change in Diaz went far beyond the aesthetic.
The first round was 50/50, full of flurried exchanges and Johnson attempting to replicate the withering leg kicks that had crippled Nate last time out. Diaz looked poised, and calm. Embedded in his tighter boxing and rolled head movements as he slipped Johnson’s early offensive attempts, were subtle suggestions a change was in the air.
As if to emphasise this, the chants of Diaz name rang loudly around the arena. The devastating one-two that so rattled McGregor in March was produced at the death of the first, connecting sweetly. Nick smiled as the buzzer sounded, as only he can, opening his arms wide to the roar of the crowd. For the first time, Johnson looked truly beguiled.
It was in the second round that Diaz turned it up a notch. A stiff jab a minute in caught Johnson flush, and like petrol on a bonfire, Nate set about burning his opponent to the ground. Johnson’s leg kicks, so key to the destruction of Diaz against RDA, became less and less frequent as Nate would either check or dismiss them – drawing Johnson further and further into his unique game. His durability was Johnson’s frustration.
Diaz Breaks Down Johnson
Punches thrown his way were greeting with a taunting smile whether they connected or not. All the years of gangster bravado had finally combined total athleticism and pure martial artistry. The crowd were witnessing something special. Slaps, punches and the infamous one-two rained down on a slowly cracking Johnson, who shrank further and further from each blow.
The buzzer sounded and Diaz stuck a thin finger right into his face and cackled. In that moment, one thing was abundantly clear…Nate Diaz was back. During the break, Michael Johnson looked dejected. “Do you want to stay on this stool?” his trainer asked. “Fuck no,” he replied aloud, but his eyes, along with the hands hanging limply onto his cornerman’s neck, told a very different story.
The final round was all Nate, Johnson missing nearly every shot he threw. It is telling that after a brief referee stoppage, the man who at the outset claimed he would retire Diaz, went to touch his hand in a moment of attempted solidarity.
Diaz merely balled up his fists and continued his work. This was his moment, having not fought in 371 days, and he would take it. Miss after miss for “The Menace” swept through the air, and suddenly loud and clear from his corner, came the words.
“Don’t give up!” they said. It said it all.
What happened next was promo fodder, an expletive-laden call out of the Notorious, but it was in in his performance that Nate had made his mark. When former foe Dos Anjos’ foot gave way in the run-up to the McGregor LW title match up, it was Nate that got the call and filled the breach.
You have to feel, that somewhere in his heart of hearts, Dana White fully expect the needle to stay where it was, company man McGregor would handily sweep aside a fighter whose best moments were behind him. Instead, he has created a monster – and as we head for what will surely be the most-watched UFC of all time, the needle has swung in the black, and Diaz’s name belongs above the door.
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