One of the biggest fights in UFC history is less than two weeks away.
In 10 days, Nate Diaz will fight Conor McGregor in the main event of UFC 202, a rematch from Diaz's second-round submission victory over McGregor back in March. Though the fight is between two of the biggest stars in the UFC, it isn't being fought for traditional stakes (though both men will be compensated handsomely); there is no belt on the line, no guaranteed title shot awaiting the winner. Instead this is prize fighting as its most pure - combat for money and pride. And not just the pride of the fighters, but of their teams too.
Recently, McGregor's coach John Kavanagh wrote a column for The 42 about the upcoming fight and how it wasn't just his pupil's reputation on the line, but his as well.
"This is a very important fight for Conor, but I also feel that my own reputation as a coach is at stake. This contest can be a bit of a game-changer for us all. Some observers who are obsessed with weight classes and belts don't see this as a very meaningful fight. They're more interested in seeing Conor defend his featherweight belt and going after the lightweight strap too.
"But for me, we're very lucky to be in a position to have an immediate rematch. In most cases, fighters have to be patient in order to get that chance. Having an opportunity to reverse an unfavorable result under the same circumstances just a few months later provides us with a chance to show that ‘Win or Learn' isn't just a catchy phrase."
A win for McGregor next Saturday wouldn't reverse his earlier loss to Diaz (that is never leaving his record), but it would seemingly put McGregor back on a path towards the lightweight title that he was on before being derailed by Diaz. The lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez has been vocal in his desire to fight McGregor should he get past Diaz, but beating Diaz is a tall order. In their first encounter, Diaz came in on 10 days notice having not trained and still choked out McGregor in the second round. This time, Diaz will have a full fight camp to prepare.
However, Kavanagh believes this time they are much better suited to fighting Diaz. For this fight, Kavanagh and McGregor have started doing something they've never previously done for an opponent: actually prepare for him.
"There's no comparing this training camp to any we have done previously. I can't stress enough how different this has been. As many of you will probably already know, routine hasn't been something you would have associated with Conor's preparations in the past.
"Anyone who knows about the history of SBG Ireland will be aware that we were always regarded as the last-minute gym — the guys who would be ready to step in at short notice. Our mentality reflected that so all you can do in those circumstances is try to get your skillset to such a high level that the opponent doesn't matter.
"I believe that worked well for us and the results were proof of that, but I also feel that when you've done that for so long, you can end up getting caught out against certain styles of opponent. This has provided us with an opportunity to experience the other method of extreme gameplanning and being very opponent-orientated."
McGregor and his team like to be on the cutting edge of fight preparation. McGregor was the first (or at least the most prominent) fighter to employ a movement coach, hiring Ido Portal to train different ways of moving to attack opponents. This shift towards opponent oriented game-planning is just the latest example of McGregor's team looking to new avenue's for improvement and Kavanagh seems very confident that it will pay dividends.
"We're ready for 25 minutes but I do believe that the cumulative damage will have become too much by the fourth round, resulting in Nate's corner stopping the fight if the referee doesn't do it before that."
Kavanagh's prediction of a fourth-round TKO is more modest than his pupil's own prediction; "Mystic Mac" has said he believes he will knockout Diaz in the second round. If he does, it would be quite the feather in the Irishman's cap as Nate Diaz has only been stopped twice in his career, and only once by strikes.
But that is the goal, a spectacular win to erase the image of a bloody McGregor rolling over and tapping out that persists in the minds of multitudes of MMA fans.
"We want to deliver a contest which will remove any doubts or questions in the aftermath. We want to put a definitive stamp on this to prove that for us, it really is a case of win or learn... There can be no excuses here if we don't get the result we're pursuing. The preparation has been flawless. But the reassuring thing from our point of view is that I know we won't need any excuses because it's not going to come to that."
5 MUST-READ STORIES
Ning fought the law, and Ning won. USADA finds no fault with Ning Guangyou's failed drug test, blames tainted meat.
Probably. Conor McGregor agrees with Nate Diaz that all fighters are on steroids.
Not cut. Ben Saunders explains why he is no longer with the UFC.
Return of the P4P king. Demetrious Johnson is targeting a return in December against TUF 24 winner.
Surprisingly good. UFC Fight Night 92 pulled in 863,000 viewers despite going up against the Olympics.
EXTRA CREDIT READING
Take the day off. You've earned it.
Nate vs. Michael Johnson fight.
And Glover vs. OSP
Bas analyzing the 202 main event.
Ill Phil Brooks is coming.
Jack Slack's new pod is great.
Stevens got silver in Judo yesterday. He trains BJJ with several prominent MMA guys.
I am so pumped on how Travis Stevens did in the Olympics!! He is the best Athlete to ever mix Judo and Brazilian...https://t.co/TsuOvEP2Tk— Dave Camarillo (@DaveCamarillo) August 9, 2016
Like Joe Lauzon.
So called Mma "journalists" trying to put words in my mouth. Just had to hang up on one constantly trying to get me to shit on the UFC.— michael (@bisping) August 9, 2016
Pretty high praise for someone who hasn't had a chance to prove themselves yet.https://t.co/aEOhxZpH3i— michael (@bisping) August 9, 2016
Coach says pressure can crack pipes or create diamonds... Goal is to be a diamond And I'm up for the challenge https://t.co/syiHrfFbUj— MackenzieDern (@MackenzieDern) August 9, 2016
Yep, that's how Conor became a draw. He beat big fan favorites and absorbed their fan bases. Like Dennis Siver.
Chael was going in on someone today. A lot of Tweets like this.
His nickname should be Maple Syrup, that sap.— Chael Sonnen (@ChaelSonnen) August 9, 2016
That is a lot of rounds.
Holly casted up.
Adriano Moraes (14-2-0) vs. Tilek Batyrov (10-1-0); One FC 45, August 13.
TODAY IN MMA HISTORY
2003: Joachim Hansen won a majority decision over Takanori Gomi to become the Shooto welterweight (155 lbs.) champion. Also that night, Alexandre Franca Noguiera drew with Stephen Palling to retain his featherweight championship.
Also that year, the Pride 2003 middleweight grand prix opening round began at Pride Total Elimination 2003. This event saw Chuck Liddell knockout Alistair Overeem and Wanderlei Silva knockout Kazushi Sakuraba in the third of their meetings. That night also featured the 2003 KO of the Year when Mirko Cro Cop delivered a brutal head kick knockout to Igor Vovchanchyn.
Conor McGregor employed Ido Portal before doing real, opponent specific preparation. That is unbelievable. It's also a moot point when talking about the Diaz fight since Nate came in on 10 days notice. It's not like Nate spent months crafting a strategy to fight Conor and Conor lost because he was out-gameplanned. Honestly, I just want it to be over so hopefully we can go back to far more interesting matchups for both guys.
Anyway, that's all for today M.Rmy. Yesterday you decided that Conor McGregor could indeed fight well. Today, you can weigh in on whether John Kavanagh can coach well. Hope your Wednesday's are all super dope. Get out there and do big things and I'll see you tomorrow.
If you find something you'd like to see in the Morning Report, just hit me up on Twitter @JedKMeshew and let me know about it. Also follow MMAFighting on Instagram and add us on Snapchat at MMA-Fighting because we post dope things and you should enjoy them.