Conor McGregor was used to hitting opponents and watching them crumble in front of him, that didn’t happen against Nate Diaz and McGregor folded under the pressure.
I wrote on Friday afternoon that the key to Nate Diaz beating McGregor was his pressure style:
This will be the first opponent McGregor has faced in the UFC that will likely not move backwards much. Diaz is a volume striker with length and good chin. The smack talk that McGregor uses inside the cage will not affect Diaz, as he’s usually the one talking smack to his opponents….The longer the fight goes, the stronger Diaz usually gets with his pressure style. How will McGregor react if the fights gets to the third or fourth rounds and Diaz is still there talking smack and hitting him from range?
We know the answers to those questions now. McGregor got the better of Diaz in the first round on Saturday night, but so did Michael Johnson in Diaz’s last fight. However, the second round saw Diaz begin to stand in the pocket and even more forward throwing strikes while absorbing everything that McGregor threw at him.
It wasn’t fighting at 170 that was the difference in the fight or Diaz being the “bigger fighter”. Let’s not forget that Diaz has fought at 155 pounds before in his career.
The difference in the fight was McGregor didn’t expect that Diaz would be able to absorb his best punches and keep coming. Diaz is notorious for that, and as I wrote, got stronger as the fight went on.
It was bad stylistic matchup for McGregor. Diaz is better on the ground and the one thing Diaz has no answer for, leg kicks, McGregor rarely throws. However, the main thing was Diaz not allowing McGregor to dictate things while standing. It’s difficult for any fighter to be effective moving backwards, and that’s what McGregor had forced his opponents to do prior to Saturday night.
He simply wilted under the pressure attack of Nate Diaz.