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Sunday 11 December 2016

McGregor must control his emotions or else risk failure

Conor McGregor Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Conor McGregor Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Of the many hypotheses posited seeking to ascertain how Nate Diaz conjured what seemed a highly improbable victory over Conor McGregor at UFC 196 in March, the most compelling was that he simply presented problems the Dubliner had never before encountered.

Despite McGregor's mantra that he had ran out of steam due to underestimating the consequences of competing well above his usual weight class, as well as unloading a surfeit of power shots at the Californian, the circumstances which precipitated his first promotional loss were more complex.

Undoubtedly, they were contributing factors as evidenced by his utter capitulation midway through the second and, indeed, conclusive round, but to not look beyond them would be to utterly underplay what was a bravura performance from Diaz, who forced McGregor to tap to a rear-naked choke. Diaz, like McGregor, is southpaw, of whom the latter has faced very few.

He also enjoys three inches of height and reach over Crumlin native who, as a featherweight, is invariably the bigger man.

Moreover, Diaz's almost preternatural durability appeared to dumfound McGregor. In 29 career fights, many of which have been unbridled dust ups, he has lost by KO/TKO just once.

Over the course of his gilded stint in the professional ranks, very few of those McGregor have encountered could withstand more than two servings of that unerring left hand.

Majesty

In his previous pair of title winning bouts, Chad Mendes and Jose Aldo crumpled beneath its majesty, and McGregor made the ill-advised assumption that Diaz would follow suit.

Most decisive, perhaps, was Diaz's imperviousness to the psychological warfare McGregor has utilised to break opponents long before they step foot in the cage.

In the interim, McGregor has invested a reported €300k on a bespoke fight camp so as to ensure history does not repeat itself in main event of UFC 200 tonight at Las Vegas' T-Mobile Arena.

From elite sparring partners to endurance training and nutrition, no stone has been left unturned.

After Wednesday night's bottle throwing fiasco at a press conference Diaz decided to depart early in response to McGregor arriving late, it was the Irishman who looked most agitated, as was the case at the open workouts on Thursday.

At yesterday's weigh ins, McGregor came in 168lbs, while Diaz tipped the scales at 170.5lbs - each within the 171lbs limit for welterweight bouts

Should McGregor fight emotionally, and seek to relieve Diaz of his senses in the early goings, the likelihood is that he will fail spectacularly.

However, if he implements his superior agility, speed and striking arsenal, while engaging at well-chosen intervals, then sweet revenge is a genuine possibility.

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