After months of promotion, the most anticipated UFC fight of the year took place on Saturday night in Las Vegas at the T-Mobile Arena. This wasn’t a quick fight or a one-round knockout (like Johnson vs Glover on the same night) but a five-round war between UFC superstar and featherweight champion Conor McGregor of Ireland and Nate Diaz of Stockton, California. Diaz had previously defeated McGregor via a rear-naked choke in the second round of their first fight in UFC 196. Ever since that shocking defeat, McGregor has been obsessed with achieving retribution against his arch-enemy.
Those who missed the main event of UFC 202, truly missed something special; a fight that will go down as an instant UFC classic. This was a fight of cinematic proportions that would descend into a total bloodbath for its two combatants.
McGregor appeared to dominate the welterweight bought for its first two rounds. The self-proclaimed ‘Pride of Ireland’ struck Diaz repeatedly with some brutal leg kicks as well as catching him with some powerful punches to match. McGregor was carefully calculated with his strikes, eager not to use up all of his energy in the first round as he had done in his first fight with Diaz.
The Irishman was also keen to stay on his feet and even though he knocked Diaz to the ground numerous times during the fight, McGregor did not fall into Diaz’ trap. McGregor knew that his only chance of winning this fight was by standing tall and not following Diaz to the ground.
After all, Nate Diaz is a blackbelt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and used his expertise in this martial art to defeat McGregor in their first fight. McGregor made the fatal mistake of initiating a takedown against Diaz in their first fight, allowing Diaz to end McGregor with a brutal near-naked choke after overpowering McGregor on the ground.
With Diaz possessing the larger and stronger frame, McGregor would have found it impossible to defeat Diaz on the ground. As such, McGregor stuck mainly to punching and kicking during the fight. McGregor came across as a better boxer than Diaz during the fight, causing serious facial injuries to his American adversary.
The astonishing endurance of Nate Diaz became much more apparent from the third round onwards. Even though Diaz was visibly wiping away flowing blood from his face as he fought McGregor, it did not delay Diaz in his vigorous pursuit of McGregor.
Diaz appeared to be unstoppable, possessing a terminator-like resistance and determination that was seemingly undeterred by McGregor’s onslaught of punches and leg kicks. As McGregor began to grow visibly tired, Diaz was able to corner the featherweight champion against the cage and dealt McGregor an absolute thrashing with a flurry of punches.
The tables had seemingly turned on ‘The Notorious’ Conor McGregor. However, as Nate Diaz began to buckle and soon struggled to see his opponent due to his bloody face, McGregor took the opportunity to begin his counter-attack. McGregor refused to allow Diaz’s attempts at a clinch to come to fruition, striking the Stockton-native with incredible kicks and body shots every time Diaz tried to grab McGregor. It seemed that McGregor had just about edged Diaz in this round.
The fifth and final round of the fighting turned into an all-out slugfest, with both fighters looking incredibly exhausted. The pair ended up fighting most of the fifth round in a clinch against the cage. However, Diaz broke the bloody stalemate in the final seconds of the round by slamming McGregor with an impressive takedown before proceeding to half-heartedly pummel the Irishman.
Unfortunately for Diaz, this was not enough to secure victory and he failed to knock McGregor out during the final seconds of the fight whilst he was in a crucial position to do so. McGregor would narrowly win the fight on points, with the judges’ scores being 48-47 to McGregor, 47-47 and 48-47 to McGregor again. Diaz looked visibly disappointed to say the least, later insisting that he won the fight and not McGregor.
Before both fighters had even left the octagon, they were already pledging a third fight in order to make their highly-publicised rivalry a trilogy. However, McGregor insisted that a third fight would be on his terms and if Nate Diaz lowered his weight to 155 pounds then they would do it. However, UFC President Dana White has insisted that “We’re not doing a third fight right now”, adding that “Conor’s either going to defend his title or give his title up”.
As a result of the fight, Conor McGregor won a record-breaking fight purse of $3,000,000 whilst Diaz still won an impressive $2,000,000 for his more-than respectable performance.
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