Tuesday 25 April 2017

'I put a knee in his stomach and heard him go huuuhhh'- Diaz pinpoints moment McGregor wilted

6 March 2016; Nate Diaz celebrates submitting Conor McGregor via rear naked choke in their welterweight bout. UFC 196: McGregor v Diaz. MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas, NV, USA. Picture credit: Mark J. Rebilas / SPORTSFILE
6 March 2016; Nate Diaz celebrates submitting Conor McGregor via rear naked choke in their welterweight bout. UFC 196: McGregor v Diaz. MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas, NV, USA. Picture credit: Mark J. Rebilas / SPORTSFILE

Tom Rooney

He was expected to be the latest victim in Conor McGregor’s quest for unprecedented domination, but Nate Diaz read the script and decided to tear it up.

Although a veteran of 21 UFC bouts and one of the more respected technicians in the game, Nate Diaz, in the estimations of the bookmakers and many more besides, had scant hope of making it beyond the second round of last night’s main event at UFC 196.

And he didn’t. But not because that famous left hand had relieved him of consciousness, quite the opposite in fact.

The 30-year-old weathered a bloody storm in the first round and much of the second, before a pair of quick-fire combinations and some slick mat work brought Conor McGregor’s seven-fight UFC winning streak to a suffocating conclusion with a little under 90 seconds remaining in the second stanza.

Speaking to Fox Sports after the most significant victory of his career, Diaz revealed that, after studying the Dubliner, he knew an early barrage was coming his way.

Known for his incredible stamina, Diaz did only have 11 days to prepare for McGregor but was confident in his reserves.

“I knew I was going to start off slow and pick up as I go. On my worst day I’ll train for two hours; I don’t have hobbies. Obviously, I'd liked have come out firing, not get touched and schooled that dude, but I had to do what I had to do with the time I had.

“I was watching his fights and I could see he keeps this pressure and these guys break. It’s the same pressure I keep, only less. The pressure I put on these people, at a certain time, they fall off. “

McGregor landed significant shots from the off and opened up a nasty cut on Diaz’s right brow, all the while taunting him. The Californian explained as the second round matured he could sense a momentum shift in his direction and, indeed, McGregor quickly wilting.

“When it started to turn around I saw the beginning of the end. I started telling him it was going to get worse from here. In the first he was quick and had things to say, but in my head it was alright and I knew I was going to be there too.

“When the next round started it came quicker than I thought. When I started landing shots, I was like this is a wrap and you’re going no further than this. I started smothering his punches and they started easing up and I said ‘you’ve got nothing to say now, do you?’”

As it happens, Diaz was able to pinpoint the exact moment that the UFC's featherweight champion quickly devolved from faltering to all out desperation; a clear sign the end was imminent.

 “I put a knee in his stomach and heard him go huuuh. Then he started shooting for a takedown and I was like oh you’re a wrestler now. Remember, I’m the black belt in jiu jitsu, and you’re shooting on me now; you and me know this is a wrap,” he said.

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