'It was like Mike Tyson against Holyfield'- UFC legend says Conor McGregor mentally broke
Long before Conor McGregor came along, Chael Sonnen was the UFC’s chief antagonist, and he believes the Dubliner psychologically broke during his loss to Nate Diaz at UFC 196.
Prior to their showdown in Las Vegas last Saturday, there was plenty of discussion as to how Diaz would react to McGregor’s constant barbs and gamesmanship, and whether it would unsettle him like it has so many before.
What may not have been apparent to those who have only followed MMA since McGregor’s meteoric rise to the top, is that Nate and his brother, Nick, are among the most accomplished trash talkers in the game.
As it happened, McGregor did not induce the type reaction from Diaz he’s used to and, if anything, the American’s claims he was on steroids proved the standout moments during the pre fight pantomime.
Chael Sonnen remains the McGregor’s only rival for the title of the greatest trash talker/fight promoter that the sport has ever seen.
In 2010, Sonnen challenged then middleweight champion Anderson Silva and gave him the fight of his career before being submitted in the fifth round. However, it was in the lead up where Sonnen may have done most damage, as he insulted Silva to the point of distraction.
He did the same prior to their rematch, which Silva won by a second round TKO. Directly after losing that title bout, Sonnen managed to goad his way into another against then light heavyweight champion Jon Jones.
Jones dispatched of him post haste, but a shot at a world championship was earned through talk, and talk alone.
According to Sonnen, McGregor imploded in the same manner Mike Tyson did when fighting Evander Holyfield.
"From a historical standpoint , mentally, Conor McGregor fell apart," Sonnen said on ESPN. "He cracked. It was just like watching Mike Tyson fold against Evander Holyfield and all the guys that have come before and after. Listen, when you stand up to a bully he will fade every time. Conor McGregor is a bully. Now, that's the mental side."
Furthermore, like other analysts have ventured since Saturday night, Sonnen reckons that the fact the ferocious and larger Diaz was not neutralized by McGregor’s left hand, similar to Chad Mendes or Jose Aldo, is likely to have forced the SBG man to expend more energy than usual in trying to get the job done.
"Physically, Conor fought a great fight," Sonnen said. "He landed some fantastic combinations. The problem was Nate Diaz was too big. When Conor landed those shots, Nate didn't go away. Eventually Conor began to fatigue and he began to take punches himself.”
"Forget the rear-naked choke, forget the takedown. This was about fatigue, exhaustion and Conor McGregor, mentally, needed out."