LAS VEGAS, Nevada – Saturday night’s main event at UFC 196 has changed several different times, but none have been better than the current matchup between UFC Bantamweight champion Connor McGregor and Nate diaz.
While this wasn’t the original matchup, or even the replacement main event, this fight brings extreme intrigue with it.
Connor McGregor is seen as one of the best pound for pound fighters in the world at 145. But he will be fighting at 170 in this matchup versus Diaz. If the fight was at 145, or even 155, then McGregor would be a heavy favorite, however jumping up 25 pounds will present numerous challenges to the boisterous Irishman.
McGregor is 19-2 and 7-0 in the UFC. He destroyed the seemingly invincible Jose Aldo in 13 seconds back in December at UFC 194.
If McGregor wins at 170 pounds, he may stay there and challenge current welterweight champion Robbie Lawler. He was originally supposed to face Rafeal dos Anjos for the 155 pound title until dos Anjos pulled out with a broken foot. His goal is to hold belts in three different weight classes and with a win over Diaz at 170, he may just be on his way.
Nate Diaz has had an up and down career in the UFC since winning The Ultimate Fighter Season Five. He is 13 – 8 in 21 UFC fights, a veteran of the octagon for sure. His biggest problem is his poor attitude at times and focusing too much concern on trash talk.
He has tremendous boxing skills and can also submit his opponent with ease, but too often his lack of focus is his worst opponent as seen in losses to Clay Guida, Benson Henderson, Gray Maynard, Josh Thompson and Rory McDonald.
One thing that Diaz does boast is a strong chin and the ability to avoid getting hit. He has only been knocked out once in his UFC career, a devastating knockout at the hands of Josh Thompson in April of 2013.
No one can deny that McGregor is the best striker in the game and Diaz will have his hands full. Diaz will have the weight advantage in his favor and he will need every pound of it to keep McGregor grounded.
The math is simple on this one, if it goes to the ground, advantage Diaz, if it stays on the feet then the tide turns to the better striker in McGregor. I personally see it going the way of McGregor simply because Diaz’s ego will want to stand and strike instead of doing the smart thing and taking it the to the ground, McGregor will pick him apart and win by 4th round TKO.
In other marquee fights we will see UFC Women’s Bantamweight champion Holly Holm defend her newly won title against Miesha Tate. Holm is 10-0 in her MMA career and just 3-0 in the UFC, however holds perhaps the greatest upset victory in the history of MMA with her two round domination of Ronda Rousey back at UFC 193 in November 2015.
This will be her chance to prove it wasn’t a fluke with a dominating win over Tate and I believe she will do so. This will also set up the giant rematch at UFC 200 with her and Rousey.
One great matchup on the undercard to look out for is the always exciting Diego Sanchez taking on the crafty Jim Miller. It is a great matchup that would headline most free shows. As an avid Diego fan, I would love to see him get his career back on track against Miller
The card will take place this Saturday night March 5, live on Pay Per View from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada