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Mar 2, 2016
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The odds are against Nate Diaz, literally and figuratively, as he enters the main event of UFC 196 against reigning featherweight champ Conor McGregor.

For UFC 196, Diaz is a +300 underdog, and majority of MMA fans believes that “The Notorious” one will be victorious this weekend, which is understandable.

After all, Diaz is coming in as a late replacement for an injured Rafael dos Anjos, entering the fight on 12 days' notice and without a full training camp. He’s also been inconsistent as of late, with his last back-to-back wins coming in 2012. McGregor, by contrast, is on a roll, riding a 15-fight win streak and coming off a 13-second knockout of Jose Aldo.

At first glance, putting money down on Nate wouldn’t be the wisest thing to do, but here are four reasons why you should pick Diaz over McGregor.


Height is might

The featherweight champ is 5’9” with a 74” reach; Diaz stands at 6’0" with a 76” reach. McGregor has enjoyed a reach advantage over all his UFC opponents and a height advantage over most of them; that won’t be the case at UFC 196.

If Conor doesn’t know how to adjust to a taller opponent, then the lengthier Diaz may be able to use his range to pick McGregor apart from a distance while avoiding damage.


Punches in bunches

Aldo got KTFO because he lunged in with a power blow. McGregor was banking on Aldo to come in aggressive, and he used his brilliant counterstriking to put the Brazilian away.

Unlike Aldo, Diaz doesn’t attack with haymakers; he lands a high volume of strikes at 80 percent power until he wears you down. By not over-committing to his strikes, he’ll be able to steer clear of McGregor’s powerful counterpunches.

He definitely has the style to wear McGregor down. The question now is: Does Diaz have the gas tank to remain effective in the latter rounds?

Superior ground game

There’s no secret that grappling is McGregor’s Achilles heel. He easily got taken down by Chad Mendes, and he offered no grappling offense off his back. In fact, McGregor’s last loss was a 38-second submission (arm triangle) to Joseph Duffy, who easily got a single leg takedown, advanced to full mount, and locked in the choke.

McGregor’s heavier base and low center of gravity will make him harder for the 6-footer to take down, but Diaz is a BJJ black belter who has throws and trips in his arsenal. If he can get the fight to the mat, then he could take home his 12th submission win.

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Mental toughness

It's what separates the champs from the chumps, and both McGregor and Diaz have it.

McGregor’s success stems partly from the fact that he has his opponents mentally beat even before they step into the cage with him. His trash talk and the weight of the moment overwhelm them and they either shrink under pressure or become overly aggressive and careless. All the while, McGregor is in his element, thriving under pressure.

Unlike McGregor’s past opponents, Diaz isn’t so easy to manipulate. He doesn’t get rattled by trash talk or by the pressures of a big fight. He’s mentally tough, and that might be his biggest weapon against McGregor at UFC 196.

 

Gab Pangalangan posts more MMA news and analyses on his website DojoDrifter.com.
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