Conor McGregor heads into his fight against Nate Diaz at UFC 196 as the overwhelming favourite. However, there are a number of reasons why McGregor should be worried about keeping his unbeaten record intact.
1. Diaz has the physical advantage
McGregor hasn’t come up against a fighter who is bigger than him and has a greater reach. Diaz is 6’0 with a reach of 76 inches, while McGregor stands at 5’9 and has a reach of 74 inches. Diaz also has the weight advantage, with McGregor having come up two divisions to 170 pounds for the fight.
It’s Diaz’s size and reach that could be the telling factors more than the much-talked-about weight class. McGregor will have to adjust his fighting style to take into account Diaz’s reach, while also having to kick and punch up.
2. Diaz’s conditioning
When McGregor fought Chad Mendes after Jose Aldo pulled out of their scheduled fight, Mendes’ lack of fitness – he too stepped in at the last moment – began to show.
While Diaz may have taken the fight at late notice he’s a fighter known for always being in top shape and McGregor can expect him to go the five rounds – he’s done so 10 times – if required, while Diaz will also unload his trademark volume of punches.
In Diaz’s last fight against Michael Johnson, he landed 153 punches – just nine short of what McGregor has found the target with across his career. McGregor can’t bet on Diaz fading, he’s going to be there to a decision if that’s what’s required.
— #UFC196 (@ufc) March 2, 2016
3. Diaz won’t lose his cool
McGregor is an annoying man to fight, that there is no denying. He riles up his opponents from the outset, following up insult after insult with words of his greatness. Diaz will not care.
While Aldo looked too keen to knock McGregor’s lights out, Diaz is going to be more patient. It’s McGregor who has everything to lose, so if Diaz can play it cool, and it may be McGregor who is forced into making a rash move.
— #UFC196 (@ufc) March 3, 2016
4. Diaz can win it on the floor
For much of his fight with Mendes, McGregor appeared to be in some difficulty with Mendes dominating the takedowns. Diaz is a top wrestler. He has recorded 11 submission wins in 29 career fights and has claimed the ‘Submission of the Night’ bonus five times. Diaz has a black belt in jiu-jitsu and is a better wrestler than McGregor.
If Diaz can get McGregor on his back, they may be no coming back for the Irishman.