Being knocked on his ass by Conor McGregor was supposedly part of Nate Diaz's gameplan
It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for 'em.
Their first fight at UFC 196 was a brutal war for the ages, but the sequel between Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz at UFC 202 was more comparable to a violent chess match.
After realising that he couldn't rely on his patented Celtic cross rendering the Stockton native unconscious, McGregor had to make a lot of adjustments for the welterweight do-over. We saw the Dubliner introduce leg kicks, vastly improved takedown defence and once the first couple of rounds were in the books, his 'kill or be killed' approach was replaced with a more intelligent gameplan.
The result spoke for itself. McGregor got the nod from two of the three the judges and silenced the doubters who felt he didn't possess the requisite gameness to overcome the adversity of a grueling 25-minute battle.
— SportsJOE (@SportsJOEdotie) August 21, 2016
However, Diaz is no idiot. He knew the man that would be facing him inside the Octagon at UFC 202 wouldn't be the same fighter who tapped in the second round of their first duel. He knew McGregor would be treating this one as the most important fight of his life - a must-win affair. He knew he needed to prepare for that.
As expected, McGregor came out all guns blazing from the get-go and managed to drop Diaz three times in the first two rounds with some heavy combinations. These punches connected with a huge amount of force and clearly staggered Diaz, but he never looked in danger of being finished in these early exchanges.
On the Fight Companion podcast for UFC Hidalgo, former UFC heavyweight Brendan Schaub claimed Diaz told him that falling to the ground when McGregor tagged him was a tactical measure.
"I saw Nate at the grocery store randomly and he was saying that he was falling on purpose to dupe Conor. He goes, 'I knew the first two or three rounds Conor's so fast, he would be tough, so when he would hit me, the plan was to fall down so he would follow me down because I couldn't take him down. So the plan was to get him to follow me down there.' That's from the horse's mouth."
Host Joe Rogan didn't appear to be too convinced by this supposed gameplan.
"Is that one of those, 'I meant to do that' things? (Giggles) That's the Pee-Wee Herman defence. 'I meant to do that hahaha'."
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