Through the first three rounds, it appeared as though Saturday’s UFC 202 fight between Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz was destined for the same result as their first meeting. But this time, McGregor was able to turn the tide.
McGregor was the aggressor to start, and he had a very smart strategy. He knew he had to take away Diaz’s right leg so Diaz couldn’t plant it and deliver big strikes as the bout wore on, so that’s exactly what he did. You could tell as the first and second rounds went on that Diaz was starting to lose his plant leg.
But Diaz started to regain momentum, and he was the one who started connecting on successful combinations, which started to knock McGregor off his game.
It basically was a mirror image of UFC 196, when Diaz won the first bout between the two. McGregor started off strong in that fight, too, but Diaz pounced on his opportunity in the second with a submission win.
It’s not exactly a surprise that McGregor would get winded, considering he had to beef up to 170 pounds for the welterweight fight. And he also is known for his quick wins, some of which only last 13 seconds, so a full five-round fight isn’t exactly in his wheelhouse.
But McGregor wasn’t about to let history repeat itself. He learned his lesson from the first fight, and while Diaz clearly won the third round, McGregor didn’t allow him to take him down and apply a submission maneuver.
It’s also important to note that McGregor took his camp for UFC 202 very seriously, and that’s one of the reasons why the fight didn’t happen at UFC 200. The two were supposed to have the rematch in July, but McGregor was taken off the card after he failed to show up for a promotional event while he was training.
Once the fight was green lighted for UFC 202, McGregor said he spent $300,000 on his camp, which is an absurd amount of money. But he was serious about getting back in the win column, and he knew he needed to get the best training possible to do so.
It appeared as though that training wasn’t helping around the third round when McGregor started to lose some steam, but he got a second wind and came out guns blazing in the fourth round. That patience proved to be a turning point in the fight, and that’s something he failed to do back in March.
He eventually won the fight by majority decision despite a broken foot, and it wouldn’t have been possible without his early success followed by his ability to weather the storm and rebound in the fourth round.
Now let’s make this rivalry a trilogy and see what else these two fighters are capable of.
Thumbnail photo via Joshua Dahl/USA TODAY Sports Images
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