UFC 196 Picks: Diaz To Go Down When Facing Shredded McGregor

Swinging Johnson

Thursday, February 25, 2016 11:46 AM GMT

Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016 11:46 AM GMT

Nate Diaz has been tapped as a late replacement for Rafael dos Anjos to tangle with featherweight king Conor McGregor. Let’s determine if McGregor can still be an effective UFC pick.

McGregor to Pack on the Pounds
Conor McGregor is a big featherweight. When he walks, or should I say struts, into the Octagon he is jacked to the max and shredded like a big old bag of mozzarella. The man is iron and has the punching power of a middleweight. However, at 5’9” McGregor will be three inches shorter than his opponent on March 5th and may not own the same jaw-dropping power punching advantage that has carried him to fame and fortune at 145. Okay, his mouth has had a lot to do with that fame and fortune but if you can’t walk the walk then talking the talk is useless in a sport that is settled with flying fists as opposed to rapier wit.

It should be noted that in anticipation of his step up to lightweight McGregor has employed welterweight Gunnar Nelson as his chief sparring partner. This should prepare McGregor for the heavier punches that he will be taking at 170 pounds. But until the action is live and every punch is meant with cruel intentions it is difficult to fully predict how the Irishman will react when he gets hit with a Nate Diaz haymaker of the same variety that broke Gray Maynard a few years ago at the TUF Finale. We will see if McGregor can take as well as he gives.

 

Is Diaz Suited to Welterweight?
Nate Diaz is 2-2 at welterweight which is why the submission specialist has plied his trade in the lightweight division. But now at 30-years-old Diaz may be far more comfortable at his natural weight as evidenced by his failure to make 155 pounds when he fought Rafael dos Anjos at a catchweight of 160 approximately 14 months ago. That match ended in a unanimous decision for dos Anjos. However it appears as though Diaz would prefer to bump up to the welterweight division and allow his maturing body to compete at a weight that would not warrant the extra work required into shedding pounds and the pre-fight dehydration that often accompanies it.

But here’s the deal with Diaz. He is not a knockout artist. He drops haymakers from both sides using a barrage of strikes to wear his opponent down rather than those teeth-loosening bombs that emanate from true fistic destroyers. Diaz can throw and he can box without a doubt but his success comes when the fight hits the mat. The man who, along with his brother Nick, put Stockton swag on the map has racked up 11 submissions versus just four KO’s in his 18 career MMA victories. It would seem that Diaz would be better suited to submitting lightweights rather than beefier welterweights which means 170 may be a bit of a stretch for the lanky Diaz.

 

Betting Analysis
I’m not so sure I like McGregor’s climb to 170 as much as most of his fans. And yes, I am an unabashed Conor McGregor fan whose trash talk is more on the cheekier, clever side as opposed to Diaz’s straight-outta-Stockton punkish drivel. Yet, an intellectual decision should not be colored by emotion which is why we must peruse the UFC odds and determine if McGregor is worthy of laying all that lumber.

We know CM walks into virtually every match with a disadvantage on the mat and this will be no different as he faces a Cesar Gracie trained BJJ black belt. Unlike wrestling savant Chad Mendes, Diaz is taller and far more adept at submissions than the diminutive grappler who pinned McGregor to the mat for most of the opening round in their UFC 189 showdown until The Notorious took control in the second round and melted Mendes with a barrage of lefts and rights that you could feel from Vegas all the way to your living room couch.

The bottom line is this. Diaz’s best mat work is done when his opponent takes him to the ground. He is not a wrestler and won’t shoot for a takedown. He is arrogant enough to believe that he can outbox McGregor and keep him at bay using a sizeable height and reach advantage. But while Diaz may outpoint McGregor in terms of sheer volume of strikes, he won’t outmuscle him and once Diaz feels the full might and fury of the Dublin Destroyer, he will not recover. To his credit, Diaz has been knocked out only once in his career, but on March 5th he will get a reminder of what it feels like to take a very public nap. This is why we will include Conor McGregor in our UFC picks at 196.

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UFC Pick: Conor McGregor -370
Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

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