5.57pm Monday 07/03/2016
Like so many on Sunday, I took to social media to witness the flood of opinion and examination from the local fight community here in Melbourne, post the McGregor vs. Diaz fight at UFC 196. As always, the responses to the result were mixed, supporting or criticizing the fighters for both justified and ignorant reasons. This being said, the wide spectrum of sentiment is regularly more entertaining than the actual opinions themselves.
What I did notice however, was a clear trend towards the fact that although Diaz came up as the successor on the night, McGregor was still deemed the superior fighter, taking away from Diaz’s exceptional win.
The weight factor…
For many, it simply came down to concern around McGregor making the mistake of moving up in weight class, rather than him losing to a more superior opponent on the night. In a way, it seems the perception of a two class jump has excused his loss and dominated the outcome of what was really a Lightweight fight (155 pounds, 70.3kg), and not Welterweight (170 pounds, 77.1kg) which the fight technically took place at.
To be fair, let me point out at this stage that neither fighter is naturally a 170 pound competitor. Diaz is a 155 pound fighter, where McGregor has competed until now at 145 (65.8kg), which he himself at the post-fight press conference admitted the cut to Featherweight was becoming a struggle. The decision to try his hand at the division above was not unwarranted, however circumstance in last minute opponent changes, pushed them both into a higher class.
With Diaz taking the fight on 2 weeks’ notice, there was no weight cut, and therefore both fighters jumped onto the scales closer to walking weight. What this means is that McGregor didn’t technically move up 2 weight classes to fight Diaz, someone who is currently ranked 5th in the Lightweight division. It was simply the equivalent of McGregor going up 10 pounds (4.5kg) to just one division heavier, which he’d targeted for, not the 2 divisions being focussed on. And finally, to bring this into perspective, Robbie Lawler, who is the current title holder at Welterweight, is another size bigger than what we saw in the cage Sunday afternoon between McGregor and Diaz.
With these considerations in mind, both fighters realistically competed at weights that were highly reasonable, with neither one being too far outside of their natural state. Thus, in Sunday’s instance, you can certainly argue that ‘weight’ did not present as the deciding factor in the final outcome.
The ‘reach’ factor…
A large component of what makes McGregor the talented and unconventional fighter you see today, is the fact that he is a Southpaw, using his reach as an advantage to set up that powerful left straight. While fighting at Featherweight, McGregor regularly enjoys the advantages of this reach, however as he ventures up a class into Lightweight (and most certainly in Welterweight), he will be less likely to afford such luxury. This is the risk he’ll take with every new opponent in Lightweight and beyond, so like anyone in MMA moving divisions, he’ll need to develop himself further to compensate.
On the flip side of this match up, Diaz also exhibits a strong talent towards his use of reach and should not have been seen as ‘the exception’ or unusual against McGregor. Again, Diaz is a Lightweight fighter, and it is within his normal division, like McGregor in Featherweight, that he uses his reach to strategic advantage. In addition, there are plenty of longer, more experienced Welterweight contenders such as ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson, Rory MacDonald and Carlos Condit who all strike using range extremely effectively. It doesn’t matter what weight you fight at, or move up/down to, there will always be good fighters with strong game around length and range defence.
The readiness factor…
McGregor experienced a full fight camp. He was preparing for a Southpaw. In theory, Diaz as the last minute replacement was a good situation for McGregor. Diaz in comparison took the fight (and ‘McGregor hype’) on 2 weeks’ notice. This is what, for me, makes his win even more remarkable.
Now, as many of you will know, 2 weeks of training for this bout does not come even close to your normal 2 weeks of training through a full fight camp. This short time for Diaz would have been an intense 4 days of scrambling to get into whatever fighting shape he could, along with a flurry of media obligations and travel in the final days. Diaz would also have had no sparring sessions for this fight, as it would have been too close to risk unexpected injury and the ‘big payday’ that comes with fighting McGregor. His training for an upcoming Triathlon would have helped for sure, however it was two very different types of fitness at play there. Coming from my own experience, nothing gets you and your body ‘fight fit’ like sparring. It’s that constant impact of contact and mental and physical conditioning that gets you to a place of readiness. The fact that Diaz pulled off this victory on 2 weeks’ notice, is a testament to the talented and competent fighter he is.
The endurance factor…
"I knew it was going to be a war. If I'm not in the best shape, I gotta start slow, save my energy, and then pick it up.” Nate Diaz
Diaz fought on Sunday with a smart and strategic approach. Filling in on short notice for a 5 round fight is a significant challenge, as 25 mins of combat at that level is not an easy thing to do. McGregor would have been easily prepared to go the distance with a full camp under his belt, something Diaz was certainly not prepared for with roughly 4 days of prep/training time. That being said, it was not worthwhile for Diaz to panic and expend significant energy in the first round. Trying to finish McGregor swiftly was not going to be a wise option, especially when he would potentially have another 20 mins of fight time.
Think back to UFC 189 where McGregor faced Chad Mendes. Mendes took McGregor down multiple times in the first and successfully won the round 10-9. The problem however, was that he expended so much energy in those first crucial minutes (and similar to Diaz, on two weeks’ notice) he then had nothing left for the remaining 20 mins, and was thus overpowered in the end.
Diaz did not make the same mistake that Mendes did. Diaz fought a smart fight, holding a slow pace and standing with McGregor, conserving energy until he found his groove. I wouldn’t say that McGregor ‘dominated’ the first; without a doubt won the round 10-9, however this was a given in Diaz’s game plan and from there the momentum changed and Diaz began pushing forward.
Looking at the fight from a superficial view, Diaz had a lot more damage and blood on his face. This means nothing, as both Nate and Nick Diaz carry a lot of scar tissue on the face which is easily reopened and exposed. Nate in particular is one who will happily eat shots to give shots, however at the same time, is not necessarily a fighter who doesn't try to get hit and is in his element once the fight becomes ‘scrappier’. This skill can put a lot of good fighters off their game and something that can’t be coached, you either have that quality or you don’t.
Sunday’s outcome was not a ‘fluke’ submission. McGregor had no interest in keeping the fight standing as he was badly hurt, backing up and looking shaky as Diaz gained significant momentum, and what we saw could potentially be described as a ‘desperation’ shot or takedown attempt. To point out the obvious, McGregor is not a wrestler. He has only one submission win on his professional record, 17 by TKO or KO and all 3 of his defeats have now come by way of submission - The ground is not his strength. Had McGregor not rolled over whilst inside mount, I’m certain it would've been a TKO/KO victory for Diaz.
Essentially, Diaz had the ground advantage in this fight and has proven to be equally as dangerous on his back. McGregor would not have shot for a takedown if he was not desperate to take the fight away from a boxing match. Simply put, Diaz has been the first real contender to stop the eccentric McGregor long enough to take opportunity for the win. The desperation move was made because Diaz had broken McGregor on the feet; McGregor was simply searching for an out, and it was unsuccessful.
From my perspective, I’d sincerely encourage the supporters and challengers out there to take nothing away from Nate Diaz’s win. He fought a strong opponent, equal in size and who experienced a full fight camp in comparison, which meant he had no sparring exposure, very little tailored training and was also expected to deliver on media obligations – all on just 2 weeks’ notice.
Diaz didn’t just deliver a win on the day; he showed what makes an elite fighter different from every other challenger out there. The lesson? Always be prepared; always be ready to take a risk, because sometimes it really pays off.
"I'm not surprised motherf**ckers…" -Nate Diaz
Interested in a tour of our facilites or a free trial class?
Leave us a message and we will get back to you as soon as possible!
I've been training at Adrenaline MMA & Fitness for almost a year now.
During my time I have enjoyed being instructed by world class trainers that show real passion and a wealth of knowledge.
The atmosphere that Adrenaline offers has always been friendly and welcoming. Usually a club that has so much talent and great fighters would have some ego,
but not Adrenaline.
The facility's are great and all of the members are friendly and approachable. I came to Adrenaline a stranger, now I am a proud member and friend, the club reminds me of this every time I walk
through their door.
I would highly recommend Adrenaline MMA to anyone wanting to train in a safe,
1 Year Member