Saturday 21 April 2018

The reasons for and against the Conor McGregor vs Nate Diaz rematch at UFC 200

Conor McGregor suffered his first defeat in the UFC after being choked out by Nate Diaz
Conor McGregor suffered his first defeat in the UFC after being choked out by Nate Diaz

James Edwards

The reaction to the announcement that Conor McGregor vs Nate Diaz II will headline UFC 200 brought about a wave of mixed reaction from fans and media worldwide.

The reasons for and against can be stacked up on either side - here we take a look at the arguments:

The first fight sold a lot of pay-per-views

The first fight between McGregor and Diaz at UFC 196 sold an estimated 1.5 million pay-per-views buys, making it the second most bought UFC show of all time.

In addition to that, the UFC also boasted impressive social media stats, including it being their most watched pre-fight YouTube series embedded with 4.9 million views, the highest ever weekend of traffic to their website and that it was the number #1 Twitter sporting event for the week of 2/29 – 3/5 with over 107m impressions and 844,000 tweets in the United States alone.

On every single metric the fight was a glowing success. UFC president Dana White remarked after the fight: "These are things that capture people's imaginations. That is why the thing does 1.5 million PPV buys. That is because it captures the imaginations of fight fans."


Will the fight go differently the second time around?

So with a lot of people interested in the first fight, the question that remains is can they recapture the imagination of those that watched it the first time, and make them believe it can go differently when they run it back at UFC 200. This is a question that can be argued either way and both sides are convincing.

Look at it from the perspective of Diaz and he can argue that he beat McGregor despite only having 11 days’ notice to prepare for the fight. Diaz and his fans can also point to the fact that McGregor was beaten convincingly, there was no controversy, Diaz was just the better man on the night and deserved to have his hand raised at the end of the fight.

However, looking at it from the other side of the Octagon, in McGregor's eyes, there's no reason why the Irishman shouldn't feel that with some fine tuning to his own preparation and tactics, he can at a minimum do better the second time around. As his head coach, John Kavanagh, said today in his column with, a few adjustments in the Irishman's gameplan could reap different results when they meet again in July.

"I doubt that any non-biased observer could look at the first round of that 5 March bout at the MGM Grand and not score it in Conor’s favour,” wrote Kavanagh. “For me, we saw the technical difference between the two fighters in that opening frame. The difference in the second round was down to cardio, and a cardio issue is much easier to rectify than a skill one."

Kavanagh later added: "Everyone makes mistakes, but the challenge now is to ensure that we don’t repeat them. The training and the strategy will be different this time. So too will the result."


Shouldn't McGregor be defending his featherweight belt?

The real sickener for some with the booking of this rematch has been the fact that it means that in the short term, both Frankie Edgar and Jose Aldo will miss out on a chance to face the Irishman for a shot at the UFC featherweight title.

It cannot be denied that both these men have legitimate claims to be due a shot at McGregor, especially Edgar who's been waiting in the wings almost a year for a crack at the title. While both are sure to have their pockets lined with the temporary solution of an interim title fight between the two on the undercard, both are gambling on the fact that they will win that and eventually face McGregor later on in the year in a unification belt.

Sadly, for one of the two, this likely means they will miss out on an eventual fight with the Irishman. This probably isn't 'fair' on either but before we all get too upset let's remember the bigger picture. These two men have faced each other before but this time around the fight will seem a whole lot bigger given the fight will have a lot more eyeballs on it with McGregor fighting on the same card. They have the opportunity on the grandest stage of them all to make a statement that the Irishman can't continue to play outside of the featherweight division if he wants to hang onto the belt.


The most important question of all - 'will I watch it?'

The finer details of the points above could lead to day-long discussions and debates but the most important question of all is 'will I watch it?'

Some may not totally agree with the booking of the fight but very few would answer in the negative to that question. The first fight was a true spectacle. Being at the MGM Grand watching it from cageside, I witnessed a very exciting fight that sent both the crowd and the internet afterwards into a true frenzy.

For the UFC, this is the only true question that matters. Can we convince people to part with their money to watch these two fight again? I think the resounding answer to this is going to be 'yes' and with the promise from Dana White that "minds will be blown" with the announcement of the co-main event, I can't see many UFC fans passing up on the opportunity to tune in on July 9th.

Independent News Service

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