#UFC196 review – by @SirisKing
UFC 196 was a card that went through alot of drama before it even began. UFC 196 was not supposed to even be called 196, but was renamed because of problems from another card. The main event had to go through a change with one of the fighters pulling out. Any card with Conor McGregor as the headliner does not really need a strong under card. This card was a very top heavy card, yet it felt if you measure the excitement level it felt almost like UFC 200. So the question was would this card live up to the hype? Rarely do you see a champion fight not the headliner of the card, but with Conor McGregor fighting, you could not have any other headliner unless you are an insane promoter. Conor said 2015 was his year, and 2016 will be his year as well.
In order to have a really great story you need a really strong villain. Enter Nate Diaz. Up until now McGregor has not really had an opponent who can hang with him on the mic. Jose Aldo and Rafael Dos Anjos are Brazilian – their first language is not English. This makes it very hard for them to compete with McGregor. Chad Mendes, Dustin Poirier, Denis Siver are definitely not trash talkers. Not only were these names I mentioned not trash talkers but it seemed like they were beaten mentally before the fight even began. In MMA their are three types of people. Everyone in MMA is a fighter for sure, yet some people in MMA are more entertainers, some people are more marital arts, some people are pure fighters. Nate Diaz is a perfect combination of all three. Maybe the only guy in the UFC like that. Anthony Pettis has all the talent in the world, but I would not call him a guy who would fight anyone anywhere. Jon Jones is the most talented man in the UFC, and a man I have no doubt can defeat anyone in the Octagon at anytime, yet Jon is more of a marital artist than a pure warrior. Nate Diaz may not be a gang member, but it is obvious he comes from a very tough environment. Not only tough humble beginnings but an environment, few people would understand. When you fight Conor McGregor you do not just fight him, but the machine. That machine is the UFC, Ireland, and the mind games of Conor McGregor. Those three things are very hard for a person who is not battle tested to overcome. When I say battle tested I dont mean only in the ring.
You have to in a sense be ring tested, but also be mentally tested. Even if you pass those two tests you have to be able to deal with the Irish contingent that follows McGregor in every fight. It turns press conferences into an environment where you are psychologically beaten before the fight even takes place. Sometimes months before as what happened to Aldo during his world tour with McGregor. Aldo also did not benefit from the Brazilians fans following him from event to event like how the Irish follow McGregor. Nate Diaz and his brother have a loyal fan base. So loyal that in some ways they are their own machine. In today’s world of social media and blogs, replacing mainstream news, streaming services like Netflix replacing cable tv, having a corporate machine behind you only guarantees that you win battles, but the war is not guaranteed. Conor never met a person who would tell him in English I do not give a f@ck. He never met someone who would tell him an obvious fact. You are a big man bragging that you are fighting little dudes. In the hood you would not get credit for that. Diaz not only gave McGregor no credit for beating little men but he actually stated a fact that all hardcore MMA fans are thinking but casual fans may not realize it. When McGregor said I run the west coast, two hours later the UFC had to warn McGregor’s security team that someone sent a cryptic message on twitter. The message said you do not run the hood McGregor, you use hands we use guns. The person then took a picture with an AK-47 before twitter deleted the account of the individual. When McGregor and Diaz had a confrontation after a press conference, the entourage of Nate Diaz jumped on stage, but McGregor’s entourage was no where to be found. These things may not seem to be related but they were all a series of first for McGregor. I write this as a man who picked McGregor to win in the first round no less. Yet Nate Diaz proved that he not only had the heart of a lion, but he is a pure mixed marital artist. As a person who has spent alot of time in the boxing gym, and been a proud member of the boxing community over the years, I still cringe at the striking I see in MMA at times. Nate Diaz not only has serious boxing skills, but he is a Jiu-Jitsu practitioner. The Gracie family have a saying when it com to BJJ( brazilian jiujitsu) that in water we are all the same size. Mcgregor was on record in actually saying Nate Diaz’s bjj is overrated. It is interesting that on a night that both Mcgregor and Holly Holm both lost, they would both lose by submission. When Royce Gracie dominated MMA in the 90’s it was because most traditional martial artists, wrestlers, and boxers who were competing could not handle a jiujitsu 4 degree black belt that Royce was. People only mastered one art. By the time Vitor Belfort rose he was a BJJ practitioner but also a lethal striker. So he mastered two arts.
Now we are in a time where MMA is striking, wrestling, and BJJ. You have to master three arts. Both Conor McGregor and Holly Holm looked clueless on the ground at times. Though they are both undoubtedly legendary strikers, Conor for his power, and Holly for her volume and accuracy. So Nate Diaz shocked the world but he did not shock himself. Not only did Nate Diaz send Conor McGregor back to the featherweight division, but he changed the fate of three divisions with his performance tonight. The welterweight division, featherweight division, and lightweight divisions were all in limbo. If tonight proved one thing it is that weight classes exist for a reason. Is Conor McGregor a good fighter? Is he a great fighter? No a great fighter in MMA has to be good in all areas of MMA, which is very hard to do in this time period.
One thing you might see this week is a similar reaction on the internet as when Ronda Rousey lost her fight. The big difference is Conor really is a warrior for sure, and he will come back stronger in defeat. The problem is Conor does not have the talent of Jon Jones. He is not a traditional marital artist like Georges St-Pierre. He does not have the ability to breakdown the game like a Dominick Cruz (who I feel is the smartest man in MMA when it comes to analyzing fights), he does not have the street cred that the Diaz brothers have, he does not have the speed Jose Aldo has or the well rounded game a Frankie Edgar has. Conor is a warrior, who has the ability to breakdown his opponents mentally. Sometimes that is enough to defeat fighters who are more talented than him (like In Jose Aldo’s case). If he fights Frankie Edgar, Conor would have the size advantage and that may be enough. Yet in the end it is like Conor himself said he does not have a problem with Jesus because “gods respect gods”. The problem is when your god bleeds in front of you, like in Conor’s case getting submitted by a guy with only ten days to prepare, some of that allure is bound to wear off. Conor himself is very similiar to Ronda refusing to change camps and practice with more skilled people. Something Nick Diaz brought up. The Diaz brothers train with world class kickboxers, boxers, and BJJ practioners, McGregor does not. I don’t think Conor has to change camps per say, but if you want to be great you need a great team. Jon Jones, Demetrius Johnson, Georges St-Pierre, and Dominick Cruz all have great teams, not good teams. Conor might not have to do a drastic change like Ronda Rousey should, but we cannot deny people like Rafael Dos Anjos became a different fighter when he joined Kings MMA. Conor was always a mysterious force. How good was he? We waited for him to fight a wrestler he did that in Chad Mendes, Chad dominated until he ran out of gas. Jose Aldo is a black belt in BJJ, but he relies more on his striking. Aldo lost definitively, but did he get caught or Conor is that much better then Aldo? So is Conor good? yes. Is Conor Great? Not yet but that is OK, Greatest takes time. As Conor himself said all people are born equal the difference is their will. Now we will put that to the test in 2016 and see how Conor comes back from this lost.
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