Fight­ing Ir­ish gets his re­venge

The Myanmar Times - - Sport -

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.’

Nate Diaz

Pho­tos: AFP

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.

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