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UFC 202: Diaz vs. McGregor II

MMA Fight: UFC 202: Diaz-McGregor II
Key Matches: Nate Diaz vs. Conor McGregor
When: Saturday, August 20, 2016
Time: 9:00PM EST
Where: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada

by Loot, MMA Handicapper,

Nate Diaz, (-110), 20-10 (4 KOs, 13 Submissions) vs. Conor McGregor, (-120), 19-3 (17 KOs, 1 Submission)

Over/Under: Over 2.5 (-115), Under 2.5 (-115)

In the main event of UFC 202, Nate Diaz and Conor McGregor battle it out in a highly-anticipated rematch at 170 pounds. In their first fight in March, Diaz scored a huge upset with a second-round submission win over the budding superstar McGregor. The Irishman gets an opportunity to reverse that loss, but will have his hands full with a man who proved to be a most troublesome foe the first time around. Will McGregor gain revenge or is Diaz all wrong for the still-UFC featherweight champion?

This was originally penciled in as the UFC 200 main event, before McGregor had a falling out with the organizational brass. Without getting into all the details, the bottom line is that the fight got pushed back a month and a half. It is unclear how much of an impact that will have. McGregor perhaps has more time to recover from the loss to Diaz and to prepare for the rematch. And avoiding a really quick turnaround can also help Diaz, who now gets even more time to prepare, having had very little time in their first fight. And when a fighter scores an upset and is put back into a rematch really fast, it can sometimes not go well. One remembers how ill-prepared Roberto Duran was in his expedited rematch with Sugar Ray Leonard. The extra time has given Diaz time to relish the win and the spoils that come with it, while affording him enough time to get his nose back to the grindstone.

There is a ton to consider as we formulate our Diaz-McGregor prediction. The first fight began well enough for McGregor, as was strafing Diaz with shots for the first round and change. But when the bigger Diaz started honing in, his shots registered far more of a reaction. A wobbled and disoriented McGregor took the fight to the ground, where the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu expertise of Diaz ended the night via rear-naked choke.

Both fighters were facing difficult conditions in their March bout. With Rafael dos Anjos going down to injury, Diaz was brought in on 11 days notice without a training camp and still managed to register a massive upset. But McGregor was also up against it—facing a very capable fighter after moving up two whole weight classes. And hubris certainly played a role, with McGregor's "take all comers" attitude coming back to bite him. Perhaps the defeat will prove to be a humbling experience for McGregor, whose over-the-top braggadocio needed to come down a notch or two.

What can McGregor do different in this fight? The question alone suggests that the defeat had something to do with what McGregor did wrong, rather than what Diaz did right. And that's not entirely the case. But there are things he can do better. He can employ more movement and attack with less abandon, now knowing the flip side of the coin. And at all costs, you'd assume he will avoid going to the ground—at least willingly, like he foolishly did in their first fight. And a little more time holding the extra weight and going through another camp might have him a bit more acclimated for the rigors of a 170-pound fight.

But Diaz will have a full training camp, with even more time to sharpen his skills and conditioning. And he may have more routes to victory, with his stand-up and Jiu-Jitsu prowess. His shots really affected McGregor and he didn't have to land many of them to make an impact. Diaz' margin for error is so much larger. He can do everything wrong and then just do one thing right to win. McGregor, however, will need to be on a tightrope, with any miscue leading to potential disaster.

McGregor is facing a career crisis with this fight counting for a whole lot. A win can put the previous loss in the rearview, as McGregor gets back to the business of being an MMA mega-superstar. Another loss puts a major dent into McGregor's status. Sure, he can brush it off and write it off as a case of him biting off more than he can chew and then return to featherweight. But the shine would be off. In other words, there is a ton on the line for McGregor. He is likely at the most-urgent point of his career and that counts for something when dealing with a man like McGregor. It's the same guy who made a long walk to get to this spot, so his drive and motivation are factors that need to be considered.

McGregor could find that a general re-focusing will have a very positive affect on his fighting. For a fighter to get to the top like McGregor, a singular focus is required. But as fighters achieve more and more fame, the outside demands also increase. McGregor had perhaps let his mind drift away from the very thought patterns that allowed him to ascend to the top in the first place. And with the whole falling out of the originally scheduled UFC 200 rematch, it's obvious that he is now cognizant of the connection between losing and reduced overall focus. That's not to imply that he wasn't focused for Diaz, but maybe he wasn't quite as focused as he should have been.


The betting odds still being in McGregor's favor speaks to the power of name-value. But it's not totally unjustified. A sharper and more mentally on-point McGregor should put himself in a better position to win. But it's hard to forget how Diaz started dominating McGregor the moment he started applying himself and doing damage. The truth is that weight classes are not merely artificial lines drawn in the sand that don't mean anything. Size is key in any fighting sport and Diaz is a big and rangy guy compared to the featherweights McGregor dominated on his way to becoming a superstar. At a slight underdog price, it's just to hard to not take Diaz in this spot.

Loot's Pick to Win the Match: I'm betting on Nate Diaz at +110. Bet this fight for FREE by taking advantage of a massive 100% sign-up bonus on your first deposit of $100 to $500 at GTBets!

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