Nate Diaz’s victory at UFC 196 put the world back in its proper order. Its stopped the madness called Conor McGregor and proved that nobody is infallible in sports as in life.
Ever since McGregor’s 13 second knockout of Jose Aldo 194, the brash Irishman has been talking about a takeover, one that included winning three UFC titles at the end of 2016. McGregor said he could beat anybody from Rafael Dos Anjos, Robbie Lawler, Floyd Mayweather Jr. and even Jesus Christ. Nobody disagreed, not especially Dana White who rode Conor’s popularity, simply because McGregor was Mystic Mac, predicting everything that had happened to his career, from the body shot that knocked out Denis Siver to stopping Aldo in one round. So when he demanded a Lightweight title shot from the UFC, Dana gave in to his whims. Here was this Irish lad, knocking out opponent after opponent in a manner he always predicted beforehand. He had become the Michael Jordan, Floyd Mayweather and Muhammad Ali of his sport, bringing in the cash with his explosive victories and unparalleled trash talk. He brought the fans too, like never before. Not even Liddell, GSP nor Brock Lesnar was able to do this:
But when Dos Anjos got injured 11 days before the fight, the UFC was in a dilemma. UFC 196 had been cancelled the previous month because Fabricio Werdum and Cain Velasquez got injured. There was no way they would cancel it again. So they gathered a pool that included Donald Cerrone, Anthony Pettis and Nate Diaz. Among the three Diaz looked like the ‘safe’ choice for McGregor’s replacement opponent. Cerrone and Pettis were perhaps too dangerous for the UFC that they might derail their big plans. Regardless of whether it was the UFC or Conor who chose Nate Diaz, it was the logical move.
Diaz had fought as welterweight before but he too fought at lightweight. He was coming off a win over Michael Johnson in December and called out McGregor after the victory. He was the perfect opponent, one who doesn’t back down from a slugfest and crazy enough to stand in front of his foe. More importantly, he didn’t have a full training camp or didn’t have one at all. Forget if the fight was going to be at 170, McGregor looked brave to accept that challenge. But deep inside, McGregor and the UFC must’ve felt his chances of winning against Diaz would be better than fighting Cerrone or Pettis. And so it was on:
UFC 196 would have been a turning point in the UFC’s existence. Days prior to the bout, McGregor hinted that he was open to the idea of challenging of Robbie Lawler’s 170 pound title at UFC 200. Dana White made it worse when he said it was hard to say no to Conor after his incredible run. Had McGregor won, he might have gotten the title shot at Robbie Lawler instead of Carlos Condit, Rory MacDonald, Stephen Thompson or Tyron Woodley who appear to have earned it not simply demanded it. That would have been a travesty of the sport. But somehow, something felt wrong. Everything seemed too easy for McGregor, something had to give soon.
Most thought it wasn’t going to be this soon though. It was a surprise but not to Nate Diaz:
As fate would have it, Jon Anik’s forearm will be tattooed with 209 after Conor McGregor’s boastful run has come to a screeching end.
He tried to fight in a man’s world and it turned out he was just a spoiled brat. He beat up his previous opponents but like them, McGregor is just a featherweight. We were wondering if he could carry his power up to 170 and he did not. Yes, he painted Diaz’s face red. But blood is the middle name of the Diaz Brothers. He couldn’t put Nate away because he couldn’t seriously hurt him. But when Nate landed one clean shot on his bloated featherweight figure, he got rocked. When Diaz took him to the ground, he had nothing. Diaz worked him as if it was a tutorial video. The Notorious One notoriously tapped out pretty quickly:
The Moment. pic.twitter.com/n2mqrsydmh
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 6, 2016
Sure, McGregor is an elite striker but the first M in MMA stands for Mixed. Nate Diaz is an asshole, but he’s got elite boxing and a black belt in jiu jitsu. McGregor’s critics always said Conor’s ground game was suspec. They were wrong. His ground game is non-existent. If McGregor kept the fight on the feet instead, he would have been knocked out cold. The only reason why Diaz wouldn’t have knocked Conor out was if Herb Dean stopped the bout because of Nate’s cuts. Other than that, Diaz was correct: He was getting killed or he was going to kill McGregor. He did the latter and ended Cinderella’s fairy tale ride.
Hats off to McGregor for accepting defeat because that proves he is a true champion. He still is featherweight champion after all right? So don’t be scared now homie. You still got a little belt.
— #UFC201 (@ufc) March 6, 2016
But funny how UFC tried to glorify McGregor after the defeat. But humble was never in McGregor’s vocabulary until Nate Diaz humbled him. He talked trash to everybody, even Jesus Christ. How the hell was he humble in victory?
Now McGregor’s talking about defending his featherweight title against Jose Aldo or Frankie Edgar, two men he tried to ignore because he thought he was going to beat Dos Anjos then Lawler. Now, he’s got to eat his words like the man that he is. He’s got no next fight other than those two. Nobody believes him now if he says he can beat Robbie Lawler. Many are even doubting now if he can even beat Rafael Dos Anjos at all. Who has he beaten anyway? Aside from Aldo then maybe Mendes, nobody significant. He was hyped like a god and in the end, God probably got angry about being trash talked put him in his proper place. Humbled. Just like that.
And now the people he trolled on his way to the top are starting to troll him on his way down. Just listen to Aldo:
— Jose Aldo Junior (@josealdojunior) March 6, 2016
McGregor took the loss like a man. We’ll see if he takes these like one too. What goes around, comes around Mr. McGregor. You will learn that lesson the hard way. Now that you’re on the opposite side, it’s time to learn respect. That way, your foes will respect you too.
When we wake up on Sunday morning, the world will be back to normal. Dos Anjos will defend his title against Eddie Alvarez or the winner of Khabib-Fergusson while Lawler might be rematching Condit or fighting the winner of MacDonald-Thompson. As for Conor McGregor, he will be back at 145 and will probably stay there for the rest of his career because in the real world, that’s where he truly belongs.