UFC 202 Takeaways: Let’s Go Ahead and Book Conor McGregor vs. Nate Diaz 3

August 21, 2016

What goes around comes around, and for Nate Diaz, it came back around in a big way at UFC 202. After 25 grueling minutes, the seemingly inevitable happened: Conor McGregor got his win back. Diaz, of course, told everyone afterward that he really won the fight, but his face didn’t seem to suggest that he was dominant, much less victorious Saturday night in Las Vegas.

UFC 202 featured a tremendous main event, and a mind-blowing co-main event that was tough to watch. Now that we have the biggest rematch in history behind us, what’s next for the UFC? If you are McGregor and Diaz, here comes the money. Even more of it.

6. McGregor Proved He’s No Fluke

McGregor seemed destined to defeat Diaz in the rematch, regardless of what the critics said. He clearly was the hungrier fighter. He wanted to win more than Diaz did. McGregor was able to make the adjustments necessary. He made smart decisions inside that cage. When he injured Diaz early he made a point not to go to the ground with him. He was strategic in his offense. He leg-kicked Diaz throughout the fight, and bloodied the Stockton fighter with his fists. McGregor adjusted his game, but Diaz didn’t. For all his talk, he adjusted in the ring, and pushed through his periods of fatigue to bounce back and do enough to defeat Diaz.

5. McGregor Will Be Close to Unbeatable at Featherweight

After two wars with Diaz, it’s not likely that anyone in the featherweight division is going to have a shot at beating him. He simply hits too hard and, with his left-handed status, he’s an awkward fighter to defend against. McGregor will get most tested at lightweight, but even there he’ll probably dominate. The experience McGregor gained from these two fights with Diaz will make it tough for anyone to compete with him. Jose Aldo’s going to have a really tough time in a rematch.

4. Nate Diaz Beat Himself

Diaz can complain about the rib or other injury sustained prior to the fight, but the truth is that he simply did not rise to the occasion. He had opportunities to defeat McGregor in the later rounds, but couldn’t capitalize. McGregor was gassed, exhausted, and Diaz didn’t jump on him or leave it all in the cage. Diaz should be frustrated with himself because he got beat by a smaller guy who busted his face up for most of the five rounds. Diaz should have taken more chances — that’s what champions do. Unfortunately, he fought like his brother Nick does in big fights — just enough to survive. When you are fighting someone who is hungrier, that never works.

3. Anthony “Rumble” Johnson Has A Bright Future

Anthony Johnson destroyed Glover Teixeira, knocking his tooth out with one big uppercut. That’s dangerous power. No one in MMA could survive that shot. He nearly knocked out Daniel Cormier with a punch that didn’t land as flush as the punch that hit Teixeira. With that kind of power, Teixeira will always be in the fight. It’s up to his opponents to decide not to trade punches with Johnson. They will lose every time. Teixeira made a huge mistake standing with Johnson. Johnson is a championship contender, at light heavyweight or heavyweight. Cormier may be wishing Jon Jones returns soon because Johnson looks like the more dangerous option.

2. The UFC Needs To Heavily Fine McGregor and Diaz For Their Pre-Fight Shenanigans

MMA took a big step backwards when McGregor and Diaz started throwing water bottles at the pre-fight press conference. That’s the type of behavior that gives MMA a bad rap. When you talk about building a new generation of fans, the UFC isn’t enticing young people and their parents to endorse MMA when the top guys in the sport are dropping F-bombs and dangerously throwing water bottles as weapons. If UFC President Dana White wants to do something good for the sport, he needs to take action and let the fighters know that that type of behavior is unacceptable.

1. McGregor Should Vacate the Featherweight Championship, Fight Diaz Next in a Trilogy 

Bad things happen when fighters delay fights. Haven’t we learned from the Holly Holm vs. Ronda Rousey situation? Diaz and McGregor aren’t getting any younger. The idea that they are going to go their separate ways and then magically come back together a year or two from now is just a fantasy. Diaz could lose. McGregor could lose. All you need is one failed USADA drug test and one of these guys is out for a long time. The money in a third fight is now. Both guys are ailing. Book the third match for the UFC card the night before the Super Bowl and then be done with it. The third fight will settle the score.

Follow Joshua Molina on Twitter: @JECMolina.

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