Although Nate Diaz may be the most unlikely nemesis for the Irish born fighter his unpolished nature makes him a perfect enemy for the diamond cut knockout artist. It’s why the match-up’s so intriguing and set to re-break UFC PPV records.
Nate’s popularity skyrocketed since tapping Conor in their last fight and the video of the rear-naked choke went viral! But the fight certainly wasn’t as one sided as that. Diaz may have come away with his hand raised but the Irishman left his opponent bruised and battered.
What can be said about the Stockton Warrior is his ability to take a hit and continuously push forward. A rock hard jaw paired with relentless work rate means that he cannot be out powered or out worked. The last clash of these two titans at UFC 196 was testament to this.
Nate’s superior cardio is a skill he’s built and developed through triathlon training. Few fighters can match the Diaz brother’s in that sense and neither could Conor. In short, he’s always in shape. Taking the first fight on such short notice and still being able to out work his opponent who’d gone through an intense fight camp (and was in peak physical condition) is an achievement in itself!
But it wasn’t a dominating victory by any stretch of the imagination plus it wasn’t exactly an ideal situation for Team Notorious. Having to fight at 170 pounds can’t be easy for Conor as he had to gain weight and change his entire training routine. His Coach, John Kavanagh was quoted as saying –
“Not having to cut weight for the fight against Diaz was supposedly helpful, but in hindsight it was undoubtedly a hindrance. Cutting weight may not be much fun, but it does serve as a reminder that you’re preparing for a fight. It focuses the mind and has been an enormous part of what we’ve been doing. Without that ritual, things were just weird. It left us all in an unusual state of mind. The routine we had established was suddenly absent. The need to cut weight gets the fighter in the zone and lets them know that a fight is on the horizon. If a person is starving, they’re in survival mode. It focuses the mind and taps into the reptilian part of the brain. When Conor is cutting weight, he views his opponent as an obstacle in the way of his next meal. It’s a primal thing. On the other hand, when you’ve eaten a good dinner, all you want to do is relax in front of the TV. The fire in your belly is replaced by food. Being stuffed isn’t conducive to maintaining a competitive mindset.”
This may explain the loss and why we saw a tired McGregor make stupid decisions! For example attempting a a double leg takedown (while rocked) against a man with highly superior grappling.
Now Conor’s had time to properly prepare for his opponent we’ll hopefully see his true talent shine through. We know what he can do and it’s good enough to beat most fighters. The real question is, can he show it on the night? And if Nate’s on fire will he be able to handle it?
There’s certainly no love lost between the two fighters and the trash talk between them has certainly not fallen short. The promotional video released by the UFC titled BAD BLOOD gives us amazing insight into their rivalry and has us even more excited for August 20th.