Arguably the biggest rematch in UFC history is set for Saturday night in Las Vegas when Conor McGregor takes on Nate Diaz. They’ll meet in a welterweight fight at UFC 202 less than six months after Diaz upset the UFC featherweight champion.
Entering his last fight unbeaten in UFC, McGregor was made a heavy favorite to leave the octagon with a victory. After then-lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos dropped out of the UFC 196 main event, Diaz took the fight on just 11 days’ notice. The bout was moved from 155 pounds to 170 pounds, and it gave Diaz the advantage he needed to submit the biggest name in the sport.
Going from 145 pounds to 170 pounds, McGregor was simply unable to knock out Diaz, who is used to fighting at a heavier weight. Diaz was down after one round, taking punches that other featherweights have not been able to survive. McGregor ran out of gas when his attempts to stop Diaz failed, and he tapped out to a rear-naked choke late in the second round.
McGregor overestimated his ability to take out Diaz, and it cost him.
“So he has some attributes that I have to be aware of that I didn't give respect to the last time," McGregor recently told GQ. "I didn't think he would be that tough. I overthrew my shots. I underestimated my opponent's durability. And that was it. That confidence is not shook. I still feel I am the better fighter. I was winning most of the contest. I feel he got lucky. Now I will address that and correct it."
But it wasn’t simply the size difference that resulted in McGregor’s first UFC loss. Sure Diaz is naturally bigger, but he only has a two-inch reach advantage. Diaz has managed to withstand severe punishment from UFC’s top fighters for years, and UFC 196 was no different. Of Diaz’s eight UFC losses, only one has ended via early stoppage.
Diaz has the advantage on the ground, and once McGregor grew tried, he used his edge to tap out his opponent. If McGregor can’t stay on his feet at UFC 202, he’ll likely be looking at another loss.
Entering this fight after a full camp, Diaz is in an even better position to win than he was when he pulled off the upset in March. But McGregor also seemed to be affected by Diaz taking the fight on such short notice, overlooking his opponent and expecting to get an easy win.
McGregor remains confident, but he is well aware of the challenges that Diaz presents. He won’t be taken off guard by Diaz’s toughness, and he should be more equipped to go deeper into the fight.
McGregor isn’t just UFC’s biggest star because he’s MMA’s best talker—although that is a big part of it. He’s dominated the 145-pound division, knocking out almost every opponent put in front of him, including Jose Aldo, who is one of the best pound-for-pound fighters the sport has ever seen. The Irishman is a better striker than Diaz, making this a difficult bout to predict.
It’s a fight that can go either way. Both fighters have nearly the same betting odds, and it should be a war at T-Mobile Arena.
But few fighters are as dangerous as a completely focused McGregor, and that’s what Diaz will be up against on Saturday.
Prediction: McGregor by third round TKO
Conor McGregor vs Nate Diaz [Bovada]
Conor McGregor -130
Nate Diaz EVEN
Fight to complete 1 full round
Yes (Fight completes 1 full round) -270
No (Fight does not complete 1 full round) +185
Fight to complete 2 full rounds
Yes (Fight completes 2 full rounds) -120
No (Fight does not complete 2 full rounds) -120
Fight to complete 3 full rounds
Yes (Fight completes 3 full rounds) +140
No (Fight does not complete 3 full rounds) -200
Fight to complete 4 full rounds
Yes (Fight completes 4 full rounds) +200
No (Fight does not complete 4 full rounds) -300
Will the fight go the distance?
Yes (Fight goes the distance ) +250
No (Fight does not go the distance) -400
Over 2.5 Rounds +110
Under 2.5 Rounds -155
Method of Victory - 5 Rounds
Conor McGregor wins inside distance +140
Conor McGregor wins by 5 round decision +450
Nate Diaz wins inside distance +120
Nate Diaz wins by 5 round decision +600
Method of Victory
Conor McGregor wins by decision or technical decision +450
Conor McGregor wins by KO, TKO or DQ +150
Conor McGregor wins by submission +1500
Nate Diaz wins by decision or technical decision +600
Nate Diaz wins by KO, TKO or DQ +500
Nate Diaz wins by submission +195
Draw or Technical draw +7500
Round Betting - 5 Rounds
Conor McGregor in Round 1 +400
Conor McGregor in Round 2 +600
Conor McGregor in Round 3 +800
Conor McGregor in Round 4 +1400
Conor McGregor in Round 5 +2000
Conor McGregor on points +450
Nate Diaz in Round 1 +450
Nate Diaz in Round 2 +650
Nate Diaz in Round 3 +850
Nate Diaz in Round 4 +850
Nate Diaz in Round 5 +1200
Nate Diaz on points +600