Colm Parkinson gives his take on how the fight against Nate Diaz will pan out for Conor McGregor
Off The Ball's Colm 'Wooly' Parkinson looks ahead to Conor McGregor's fight with Nate Diaz at UFC 196 on Saturday night in Las Vegas, pinpointing what to look out for.
I'll start with my prediction; this will be an easy fight for Conor McGregor.
What's Nate Diaz like?
In a lot of ways, Nate Diaz is the perfect opponent for McGregor. Like Conor, he is a stand-up boxer, but a much less skilled boxer. He doesn’t have a good take down game either, which is good news for McGregor considering how easily Chad Mendes brought him down.
On the other hand, he has a very good ground game, but usually uses his black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu as defence. I can’t see Conor taking him down to test that out.
He doesn’t have knockout power either; of his 18 career MMA wins, only four have come by way of knockout, with two of those in the UFC.
Diaz's boxing coach, Richard Perez, said during the week that "without question, the stylistic matchup between Diaz and McGregor will get fans on their feet".
That will more than likely turn out to be true, but it depends on how long Nate is able to stay on his feet.
What Nate will have in his advantage is size. According to the official UFC website, there is little difference between the two fighters in arm reach or leg reach.
Image: Conor McGregor's Stats. UFC.com
Image: Nate Diaz's stats. UFC.com
Judging from the picture above, the three inch height advantage is being generous to McGregor. How will he deal with hitting an opponent much taller than him, making his high kicks more difficult to execute?
Conor had so much success with body kicks against Chad Mendes, it would seem like the logical move to repeat those tactics. Like Mendes, Diaz hasn’t had a training camp, so kicks to the body will take it out of him.
On the issue of weight, everyone knows Diaz was always going to struggle to make 155 pounds, however he didn’t want to fight at 160lbs either, insisting on a catchweight of 165 - this gives an indication of the shape he’s in.
McGregor’s reaction to Diaz playing hardball on the weight class was typical of his attitude to every fight, as Dana White highlighted when he compared him to UFC legend Chuck Liddell.
... McGregor adds one more note:— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) 24 February 2016
"Make it 170," he says. "Tell him to get comfortable."
The fight is made. At welterweight. #ufc196
How is Conor doing?
The disappointment of missing out on making UFC history by holding two belts at the same time must have hit Conor hard. He briefly referred to it in his press conference, but only a fight with Diaz could replace the magnitude of the Dos Anjos bout, so he did everything he could to make it happen.
Only time will tell if jumping up 25lbs is brave or foolish. To put that into context, he is moving up nearly 20% of the weight he was when he fought Jose Aldo.
However, that said, he does seem to be enjoying the welterweight lifestyle, saying during the week "I’ve had two breakfasts. I feel really good. I enjoy movement so it’s nice when you can put some food in your belly and go and move. We just trained for four-and-half hours straight there and I’m still full of energy".
Psychologically, he does need to get over the disappointment of the non-title fight and concentrate on a beatable opponent. His fans need to get over that disappointment too.
I’ll ask the fans on Friday before the weigh-ins all about that but then again, I’m sure they’ll be over it by then!