Fighting Irish gets his revenge
AS combinations go, Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz are combustible. The fighters’ collective efforts proved that point once more on August 20, as McGregor exacted a measure of revenge at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas by taking a majority decision over Diaz in one of the most compelling main events in UFC history.
The result evened their head-tohead record at 1-1, and teed up a lucrative trilogy-making contest when the time is right.
The two fighters took away record purses from their UFC 202 main event clash – McGregor earned a guaranteed US$3 million and Diaz $2 million. They earned every penny over the course of a 25-minute war of attrition that tested the acumen of the judges and frayed the nerves of fans around the world.
“Surprise, surprise! The king is back!” McGregor said. “If you want this trilogy, it’s on my terms. I came up to 170 [pounds], now you’ll come back to 155 and we’ll finish what we’ve started. I knew what I had to do this time around and I did it.”
Win or learn: That was the mantra put forth by McGregor, the UFC featherweight champion, after Diaz surprised him in March by holding firm against an onslaught of punches before turning the tide and finishing the smaller Irishman with a rearnaked choke. Win it was. Judges Jeff Mullen and Derek Cleary saw the brawl 48-47 in favour of McGregor, siding with him in the first, second and fourth rounds. Glenn Trowbridge had it 47-47 due to a 10-8 round for Diaz in the third. The Guardian judged the contest 48-47 for Diaz, giving him the second, third and fifth rounds.
Regardless of how the bout was tallied round-by-round, the energy expelled by both men made it an inspiring and exhausting experience.
After falling short in the spring, the onus was on McGregor (20-3) to adjust against a naturally larger opponent who possessed edges in experience and durability, and whose skills were potent enough to make him a mainstay in the octagon for the last decade.
Expected to show up in much better physical condition following a full training camp, Diaz still started slow. McGregor’s opening round was measured and effective. He added leg kicks into his attack that hurt Diaz, and followed them up with strong left hands. What he did not do was force anything. In the first contest, McGregor appeared eager and overconfident, fighting for a finish instead of letting it come to him. Rather than loading up with power this time, McGregor unfurled smooth combinations that generated enough weight behind them to damage Diaz.
The first of several knockdowns came two minutes into the fight, yet having seen Diaz handle his punches in their previous fight, McGregor held back from any temptation to push for an early finish. Still, he appeared to breathe heavily as Diaz made moves in the second stanza. This was reminiscent of their previous clash, when he wilted under the strain of his own actions and Diaz’s ability to cope and respond. McGregor’s predictions of a stoppage within two rounds went by the wayside, and the bout remained On the prospect of a rematch tightly contested all the way through.
Diaz picked up momentum in round three, taunted McGregor as momentum swung in his favour, and took an overly generous 10-8 from Trowbridge that made the final score a draw on his card. Diaz looked ready to put McGregor away in the fourth, but the 145lb champion found himself and regrouped. Easing off the pedal in the early going allowed him to find a second wind when he needed it most.
“I stayed calm with it,” McGregor said after the fight. “I didn’t exchange with him. I bounced the shots off the shoulders.”
Diaz absorbed his share of McGregor’s attacks, and his face was a mess by the midway point in the fight. He had several cuts to his face, including above his right eye, which made for a ghoulish scene as the two tied up in clinches along the fence and blood and sweat mingled.
The final round belonged to Diaz (19-11), however he fell short of pushing McGregor past a breaking point. There were many people coming into the contest who wondered if the 28-year-old Dubliner could manage to clear the mental hurdles that might come with facing a man who took his best and gave it back in the worst ways. McGregor certainly did that and more.
The 31-year-old said he deserved the victory. “I came here to fight. I want No 3, I gave him No 2, so let’s do it,” Diaz said.
Diaz indicated he won’t return to the UFC unless McGregor – and another huge payday – are on the docket.
– The Guardian
‘I came here to fight. I want No 3, I gave him No 2, so let’s do it.’
Conor McGregor celebrates taking down Nate Diaz by decision in a highly-charged rematch from their spring fight, which Diaz won. Will the UFC arrange a third fight to determine who deserves ultimate bragging rights?
McGregor bloodied Diaz in early rounds.