The roof of the MGM Grand in Las Vegas is counting down the hours until it gets another almighty battering when Conor McGregor steps into the ring and the crowd below will once again attempt to blow it to smithereens.
There mightn’t be any titles up for grabs tonight for the Crumlin warrior but there’s business to be attended to in the shape of Nate Diaz. The American has been trying to match McGregor in the mind games all week and come up second best.
With a run of seven straight victories since joining the UFC three years ago, McGregor is backing up all his talk of taking over the sport and he looks well on course to achieve his targets.
He is stepping up two weight classes to face Diaz at 170 pounds, 25 pounds more than he carried in his last fight to win the featherweight world title against Aldo. The reason being so that Diaz won’t have to cut to the lightweight limit on short notice. It is truly mind-blowing, the 145-pound champ is fighting at 170!
McGregor has been adamant though, the weight class doesn’t matter.
“It doesn’t matter what weight divisions or anything, or even what belt is on the line, because really I should create my own belt,” McGregor said during the initial UFC 196 press conference at the UFC Gym in Torrance, Calif. “I am myself my own belt. It doesn’t matter if it’s featherweight, lightweight, welterweight – it’s the McGregor belt.”
So what of his opponent Nate Diaz (18-10) the mysterious bad boy of UFC.
Just like the little girl who had the little curl right in the middle of her forehead. When he’s good, he’s very, very, good but when he’s bad he’s horrid.
Last December against Michael Johnson, he looked on top form. But last year against Rafael Dos Anjos he was unrecognisable and looked like he wasn’t interested. Which Nate Diaz is going to show up tonight?
Nate Diaz is the first fighter Conor McGregor has faced in the UFC with the length and forward-moving standup to perhaps knock him out of his rhythm. And he’s also the most formidable grappler McGregor has seen, with a jiu-jitsu game capable of finishing the fight in an instant.
Diaz though has never before come against someone with a bigger personality than his own.
Mentally McGregor has a self-belief unmatched in the sport. And physically he’s a better beast than anyone the American has ever faced.
Diaz isn’t a natural welterweight, just a lightweight who is not being asked to cut to 155 pounds. He’s the bigger man, but not necessarily the stronger. He’s been battered before in the cage, something we’ve never seen happen Conor McGregor. InTallaght predicts The Notorious to come out on top against the Californian and keep that train rolling towards immortality.