“I’ll make my own division.”
That was the message that “The Notorious” sent out when addressing the media ahead of UFC 196.
Less than 24 hours after the announcement was made that Nate Diaz would be replacing Rafael dos Anjos in the main event, both fighters were on hand to discuss the match.
McGregor wasted no time in promoting the event as he immediately called out the competition stating that the majority of contenders who called him out all disappeared when the time came to step up on short notice to face him.
McGregor questioned the courage of the other contenders. Stating that dos Anjos broken foot was nothing more than a bruise.
He also re-iterated that he felt Jose Aldo was afraid, stating that the former featherweight champion had talked extensively about wanting a rematch but refused to step up to fight on short notice.
Diaz was in no mood to partake in the McGregor show. Throughout the press conference he gave short answers. He claimed only that he was ready to fight and was ready to compete in any weight class.
Diaz did mention that it was the UFC who contacted him first about filling in to face the Irishman and that he did not have to lobby for the fight.
The most interesting exchange came when Diaz stated “everyone in the UFC is on steroids.”
McGregor was quick to counter, bringing up the fact that Diaz teammates Gilbert Melendez and Jake Shields had been busted in recent years for using PEDs.
When McGregor asked Diaz if he knew that his teammates were using the Stockton native had no response.
Any event that “The Notorious” is connected to is accompanied by the circus he brings with his pre-fight antics. In this case, it appears that he now has another clown to ride in the car to Las Vegas.
Of course, on fight night we’ve seen that McGregor plays the role of the lion tamer rather than joker. Diaz too, despite coming in on short notice, will throw down for however long the fight lasts.
Breaking down the match-up, one imagines that McGregor is more likely to be the better conditioned of the two. It’s no secret that dos Anjos is among the most well-conditioned champions in the UFC and McGregor has been training for five tough rounds.
Diaz on the other hand came back in great shape from a year long lay0ff to dominate top-contender Michael Johnson this past December.
Most tellingly, the shift from a lightweight bout to a welterweight bout will likely be the difference. Diaz has fought at 170 pounds before, although it was a domination by the bigger Rory MacDonald that sent him back to the lightweight ranks.
Conor McGregor, physically, is no Rory MacDonald. Do not take any of his pre-fight chatter seriously, McGregor does not survive a battle with bigger athletes like Robbie Lawler and Carlos Condit. Not by a long shot.
At 155, McGregor had the advantage that Diaz would have had to focus his training on making the required weight limit on two weeks notice.
At 170, Diaz regains the advantage by being the naturally larger fighter.
Stylistically, Diaz is known for his volume striking and jiu-jitsu. He is comfortable using his reach to his advantage and on the ground he actively seeks submissions to keep opponent on the defensive.
McGregor is more versatile on the feet, incorporating both punches and kicks. While his knockout power is apparent at 145, he isn’t likely to to carry that up to 170 pounds. This is also taking into account that Diaz has only been stopped by strikes once in his entire career.
The Irishmen isn’t as active on the ground, in fights we’ve seen he prefers to work his way back to the feet rather than grapple for extended periods. In the fight with Chad Mendes, we saw McGregor struggle against the superior wrestler. Stylistically, Diaz gives McGregor more room to work as he is likely to go for more submissions rather than focus on staying primarily in the top position.
Overall, I feel that Diaz gets the physical advantage at 170 despite the superior conditioning of McGregor. That said, “The Notorious” is better on the feet which is key as I feel Diaz doesn’t have the wrestling ability to get in on the shorter fighter.
I give McGregor credit that he has showed up to every big fight regardless of circumstances to get the job done in devastating fashion. That’s something Diaz can’t say.
With a full training camp, and UFC 200 on the line, I have McGregor by TKO in the second round.