Conor McGregor vs. Nate Diaz Fight Breakdown - UFC 196

UFC 196 is one of those Pay-Per-Views that really highlight some of the key components in Mixed Martial Arts: technique, physicality and unpredictability. Saturday's main event saw one of the most popular fighters in the history of the sport, Conor McGregor, succumb to Nate Diaz. It was an insane night, and there's a lot to talk about. Let's get to it:

Let's talk about the fight for a minute. I believe Conor had a relatively solid gameplan. He wanted to drop Diaz, and he wanted to do it fast. Therefore, he was throwing some very big punches. Like he usually does, he was standing with his hands low...very low. I'm still not sure if he keeps his hands down so he can counter attack faster or if he's just playing mind games. Regardless, we've seen him use a similar gameplan before, and the results are mostly satisfying. The problem? He was fighting Nate Diaz. A taller opponent, with the chin of a God.

Now, I won't lie to you: I wanted McGregor to win the fight. He's a young, fearless, skilled fighter, who is bringing a lot of eyes into the sport. But you have to give credit where credit is due: Nate Diaz fought like a warrior. In the first round, Conor went for the kill. He absolutely delivered some brutal shots. Nate ate them like it was lunch time, By the second round, everybody's favorite Irish man was gassed. Not sure if it's because of all the haymakers he was throwing, or because of the weight he had to put on before the fight (man was eating heavily-marbled and fatty steak left and right, which doesn't really benefit your cardio). In any case, Nate noticed that Conor was slowing down, and he went to work. Eventually, he connected with a beautiful straight to the chin, McGregor went into panic mode and shot for the takedown;Diaz used his black belt Jiu-Jitsu to masterfully transition and put him away with a rear naked choke. Great job by Nate.

If one thing was made clear is that Conor didn't expect Nate to take his left hand. From the beginning of the fight, he barely used his right hand, and his leg kicks simply weren't there. If guys like Rafael Dos Anjos and Benson Henderson have taught us anything, it is that the key to defeating Nate Diaz is to pepper his legs. Conor wasn't thinking long term. I think he truly believed his prediction: he was going to get a first round knockout. By the time he got tired, he mentally broke. I'm not saying Conor doesn't have a right hand or powerful kicks, but I'm saying that for some unknown reason, he didn't use them.

Another important thing to talk about is McGregor's Jiu-Jitsu. After the fight, people were bashing him, saying that his ground game had major holes. I disagree. I'm not saying he has better Jiu-Jitsu than Diaz, because that is definitely not the case. But he did show some interesting things. During the first round, he perfectly handled Diaz's takedown, sweeping him from the X-guard (a guard I did not expect Conor to have on his arsenal). Now, his ground skills were trash during that second round, but it's not because his overall ground game "sucks". He was gassed, rocked, and mentally broke. You can't judge a man's Jiu-Jitsu under those conditions. I'm telling you, the his Jiu-Jitsu is not as bad as some people think it is.

The biggest takeaway, in my opinion, was how well both guys handled the result. Nate was deservingly cocky, but he wasn't disrespectful. And Conor dealt with the loss in a very mature way (unlike some other recently defeated champions...looking at you, Ronda). He took it like a man, and you can tell he'll grow from it. I'm certain he won't receive the backlash other fighters received after their first UFC loss.

Where do these guys go to now? Well, I feel like Nate should get a title fight. He just defeated THE biggest name in MMA right now. He already lost against Dos Anjos, so a title match against Robbie Lawler at UFC 200 makes a lot of sense. As for the Notorious one, he'll most probably go back to 145 to defend his belt against Frankie Edgar or Jose Aldo. Shall he win, he'll start building up to the eventual title fight against the lightweight champion. Exciting times are ahead of us!

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