For the first time in just over half a decade, Conor McGregor goes into an Ultimate Fighting Championship match as the underdog.
Arguably the most anticipated sequel of the year doesn’t come directly from Hollywood with the glitzy actors and actresses, but instead the Octagon, with the second fight between McGregor and Nate Diaz taking place this weekend.
The Welterweight bout, which begun as a low key exhibition, has escalated over the last six months into World War Three, with both fighters at each others throats ever since the original fight was announced.
Diaz went on win the first clash back in March through submission, after taking an early beating from the Notorious one.
McGregor wanted to knock Diaz out in the opening round to cement his place as a UFC legend; but his plan backfired, and as his punches weakened, the American begun to take control.
It raised questions as to whether the Irishman can actually defeat a man who has a reach advantage over him, and is more experienced in the Octagon.
The 31-year old’s win back at UFC 196 was no fluke. He knew McGregor would come out all guns blazing and waited for his time to pounce.
Diaz’s MMA style is close to that of a boxers. He knows when to land a punch, and with such ferocity that it swings the match in his favour.
This will be what McGregor needs to avoid.
In many peoples eyes, the 28-year old has only two options in which to defeat his opponent at UFC 202; KO or Points.
Submission isn’t his style. He likes to fight dirty, make the opponent bleed, and finish him off like a gladiator in the Coliseum.
KO’ing Diaz is easier said than done.Only Josh Thomson has ever be able to achieve that feat.
So in that case, could we see a different Conor McGregor on Saturday night? The Notorious will not bow down so easily to the American’s submission hold, thats for sure.
Will he rely more on his kicks? Could he try to mirror Diaz’s stamina and go the full hog?
What we do know is that he will be fighting an even more prepared Diaz, who has a full training camp behind him.
And if the prelude to this fight needed spicing up anymore, things took another twist at the Pre-UFC 202 press conference yesterday.
Diaz and co. interrupted McGregor’s time on stage and the end result was as you’d expect.
It was like two rival groups of school boys in a playground throwing whatever they could gather up during their lunch hour at each other.
This certainly has the foundations to go down as one of the biggest head to head clashes in UFC history, but will we see the rivalry end with another Diaz victory? Or will the Notorious claim the win and develop this latest saga into a trilogy?