Speaking at John Kavanagh’s ‘Win or Learn’ book launch in Dublin last weekend, Conor McGregor promised that he would “toy” with Nate Diaz in their rematch, which takes place in the main event of UFC 202 on August 20 in Las Vegas.
Understandably, after Diaz claimed the second round win over ‘The Notorious’ in March, the fact that the Stockton cult hero had stepped up on eleven days notice to fulfill his duty made the win even more impressive. On the flip side of that, McGregor’s risk of jumping up to welterweight was criticized given how quickly the Irishman appeared to gas in the fight.
After taking to the stage in the Mansion House to join his coach on stage, McGregor told the evening’s host Mike Sheridan how he has specifically geared his training towards preparing for Diaz, which is far cry from his common ‘there is no opponent’ mantra leading up to previous bouts.
“For the last fight I was preparing for Dos Anjos for the lightweight belt, a small stocky southpaw,” said McGregor, as reported by Balls.ie. “I didn’t actually bring in any southpaws, not one. The reason why we don’t really care what the opponent is doing is because they always pull out, every damn time. This time, I know Nate’s going to show up.
“I’m going to be facing a tall, lanky southpaw with a decent lead hand. I have brought in tall, lanky southpaws with a solid lead hand. Guys with solid jiu jitsu credentials and John is managing every session.
“With the injury, I kind of left my cardio days behind. I didn’t rack up the miles on the clock like I used to in my amateur days. I’ve hit the road and I’m building up my cardio that way. I’m feeling very confident in myself that I’ll go in and I’ll toy with this man.”
Given his previous ‘devil may care’ attitude towards his previous counterparts, it is clear that McGregor has been somewhat humbled in defeat. For the first time, he is acknowledging that he is preparing himself concisely for the specific threats of Diaz.
The Cesar Gracie black belt gave McGregor an in-depth look into the strengths that he possesses in their first meeting. He found the Dubliner at the end of his jab/cross combination on a number of occasions before he displayed his stellar ground game to claim the finish in the second round with a rear naked choke. Based on who the UFC featherweight champion has brought into his camp ahead of the rematch, he should be far more prepared for Diaz the second time around.
One of the biggest names that has been drafted in by McGregor ahead of the clash on August 20 in Marcelo Garcia black belt, Dillon Danis. Garcia’s back control is infamous to the point where people have been known to call the Brazilian “the human backpack”, which can only help McGregor given how the last bout ended.
Danis is an incredibly versatile and aggressive competitor. Demian Maia even prepares for his own UFC bouts in Garcia’s New York facility on occasions where black belts like Danis play crucial roles in getting him fight ready. Danis is without a doubt the most prolific and celebrated grappler McGregor has ever prepared for a fight with, so it will certainly be interesting to see if the New Yorker can bolster his ground game sufficiently ahead of the clash.
Future Olympic gold hopeful Conor Wallace has been brought in to help McGregor prepare for Diaz too.
A rangy southpaw who is known for his jab and straight, Wallace has won the All-Ireland championships six times. Visiting SBG Ireland along with Irish Rio competitors Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlon two weeks ago, McGregor hoped to have the Northern Irish charge back for more sparring. However, after getting cut over the eye in a contest the weekend after his sparring session with the Irish superstar, it is still unknown whether Wallace will revisit Dublin to help McGregor ahead of UFC 202.
Robbie ‘The Rabbit’ Hageman has been frequenting Straight Blast Gym since last year, but the kickboxing world champion has been playing a pivotal role in McGregor’s sparring sessions ahead of his UFC 202 test. The Dutch fighter was trained by the legendary Ramon Dekkers and brings a wealth of experience to the forefront having traveled all over the world to gain more knowledge of the striking arts.
Raja Shippen has also been training at SBG, and most importantly, sparring McGregor during this camp. The California native is one of the top ranked fighters in his weight class in Australia, and his dynamic submission skillset will surely give the Irishman some interesting looks as he hopes to get himself back into the win column on August 20.
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