UFC 196. The great night of upsets. A wildly ambitious Connor McGregor saw his dreams crushed, or better yet, literally choked, while Holly Holm lost her title to chance in the final round of her first title defense.
McGregor vs Nate Diaz is one of the greatest fights of our time. The respect both these fighters command after that event is unquestionable. Nate took the fight on 10 days notice, while McGregor made a jump one entire weight class above the one he was scheduled to fight in. Nothing can be taken away from the Irishman for making history that night, taking the risk, putting it all on the line, and coming out short.
While Mac was having great success the entire round and a half, he proved unable to carry the weight while maintaining a sufficient gas-tank. Meaning, he tired out, trying to KO a hard-chinned, stubborn and dogged fighter in Nate Diaz, who can take punishment, and go for days.
McGregor’s coach John Kavanagh explains:
“Yeah, a lot of things were working. I did think that he maybe was loading up a little on his left hand, especially when you’re facing a same stance fighter. Nate’s kind of good at using that shoulder roll that boxers do to defend themselves. A lot of big lefts that weren’t catching him flush. They were kind of bouncing off his shoulder, or Nate was moving with the shot so weren’t having the impact they’d have on an opposite stance fighter or someone who wasn’t as highly skilled as Nate.
“But still, some good shots landed. He did get taken down by a single leg by Nate, but I thought Conor did very well, he executed a nice sweep and was taking the guard, almost passed and landed some good shots. So, all in all, it was a good round. I imagine the judges gave that round to Conor. I can’t see how it would have went otherwise.”
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Kavanagh went on to say that he warned Conor about throwing the power left, instead wanting to touch and score clean.
“That was pretty much all I said between round was, you don’t have to take him out with one shot, no need to load up on that big hand,” he said.
“If there was something to critique or take away from that fight, I think Conor almost immediately said it much better than I’m able to say, is that he was inefficient with his job and Nate was efficient. And that’s what I was trying to get across, and that’s what we saw happening. He kind of blew himself a little bit trying to take his head off with every single left hand rather than just landing it. Maybe I could have stole his own phrase and told him to keep it flowing.”
When asked where he saw the complexion of the match SUDDENLY, change:
“I think there was a good left cross, and it kind of stumbled Conor back,” he said. “I kind of think it was really exhaustion at this stage. He looked really, really tired.”
“At that stage it was clear that he was very, very tired. And if there’s one thing you’re never going to say about a Diaz brother is that he gets tired. He just has that incredible ability to just keep going and keep pushing themselves. They [Nate and Nick] are phenomenal athletes, the two of them. So I thought that tiredness and him being pushed back was when I was worried.”
Not making excuses for the Irishman, Kavanagh had a great point to make about the condition of his fighter before the fight saying that ‘fatigue’ was a main contributor to Connor’s loss. Which makes sense when you’re a featherweight jumping two weight-classes above your own.