By Joseph Sykes | Sports Editor
“We should always be ready to fight, even on our worst day.”
Nate Diaz spoke these powerful words after submitting Conor “The Notorious” McGregor in the second round of UFC 196’s main event last Saturday night. Diaz’s victory snapped the Irishman’s 15-fight winning streak, uprooting the entire MMA world in the process.
Entering the match, the Stockton, Ca. native, was the overwhelming underdog, which can partly be attributed to McGregor, a fierce and well-rounded martial artist who just recently knocked out Jose Aldo, the former No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world.
That underdog stigma also stemmed from the fact that Diaz only had 11 days to prepare for the match. McGregor’s original opponent, lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos, fractured his foot during a training session, which sidelined him for the fight.
McGregor had the talent, preparation and confidence swinging in his favor, so where did it all go wrong for the “The Celtic Tiger?” Well, he never actually took the time to scout his opponent.
When Diaz showed up for the UFC 196 weigh in the night before the fight, he looked considerably out of shape despite meeting the weight requirement. Of course, the always-brash McGregor was quick to point this out as soon as he got ahold of the microphone.
“I was just giggling at his soft little body,” McGregor told the MGM Grand crowd. “How can a fat guy be so skinny at the same time? It amuses me.”
Unbeknownst to McGregor, Diaz was in the midst of training for a marathon, something he kept to himself until the fight was over. His increased stamina from the training sessions allowed him to move swiftly across the canvas during both rounds of the main event.
Another aspect McGregor mismanaged was Diaz’s ability to withstand blow after blow. Diaz suffered a massive amount of bloodloss thanks to McGregor’s sharp jabs, but somehow he couldn’t be fazed, and by the end of the first round, the Irishman was gassed.
“I was inefficient with my energy,” McGregor said during his post-fight interview. “[Diaz] was efficient. I wasn’t efficient.”
Heading into the second, Diaz took advantage of a tired, struggling opponent, stunning him with three mid-round punches. After the third shot, McGregor attempted a takedown in order to halt Diaz’s barrage, but was stuffed on the spot. This failed takedown attempt led to Diaz locking in a rear-naked chokehold, which ultimately McGregor succumbed too.
When looking back at Diaz’s fight log, the MMA world should have seen this result coming. He took the challenge to silence one of the league’s more loquacious participants, which he accomplished in a two quick rounds. When someone isn’t prepared, the outcome is never pretty.
McGregor was obviously way too cocky heading into the fight, but even worse, he was greedy. He took this fight because he thought he’d be facing dos Anjos for the lightweight title when he already owns the featherweight championship. Apparently one belt wasn’t enough for him.
For Diaz, though, this was the victory he so desperately needed. A win over the No. 8 pound-for-pound fighter in the world should be enough to secure a title bout with dos Anjos in the near future.