The following is a brief round-by-round recap of the most highly anticipated fight of the year:
Round 1 – McGregor starts off tactically throwing leg kicks, not recklessly coming forward throwing wild spin kicks like the first fight. McGregor calmly advancing and countering. McGregor’s right hook to body-left cross to the head is effective and he starts to land it over and over. Less than two minutes in, McGregor buckles Nate’s knees with a left then a follow-up left sends Diaz down. Diaz invites McGregor to join him on the ground but the Irishman wisely declines. Back on the feet Nate’s landing some shots, especially long jabs, but McGregor’s punches are harder and more telling as the corner of Nate’s right eye begins to bleed. More punishing leg kicks from Conor. Round ends with McGregor on top after awkward tumble to canvas. McGregor’s leg kicks chopped Diaz up the entire round, and his speed, combinations, and heavier hands left Nate’s face a mess, though the Stockton native defiantly swaggers back to his corner at the bell. 10-9 McGregor.
Round 2 – McGregor drops Diaz heavily only fifteen seconds into the round with a one-two, he lets Nate up then pursues. Less than sixty seconds in Diaz is stunned and stands still to block when a McGregor one-two splits the guard, and a laser left hand sends Diaz crashing backwards to the canvas. Although Diaz is clearly hurt, McGregor doesn’t want to go to the ground with the Brazilian ju-jitsu black belt and lets him up again. For the next few minutes McGregor continues to butcher Nate’s lead leg with kicks and lands stinging lefts to the head. Suddenly and out of nowhere with a minute-and-a-half remaining in the round, Conor starts backing away for the first time all night, and Diaz senses he’s tiring and pounces. Nate spends the rest of round battering McGregor all over ring with punches and pushes him against the fence. Diaz is pummeling an arm weary McGregor against the cage and he looks too tired to answer back as the bell intervenes. Unbelievable turnaround. After cruising to a certain 10-8 round, now McGregor looks completely spent. 10-9 McGregor.
Round 3 – Diaz picks up where he left off in the last round, and is walking McGregor down now, outboxing him. McGregor looks completely gassed as Nate pot-shots him. Late in the round McGregor comes back with a couple hard lefts that momentarily halts Nate’s advancement. In the last minute of the round Diaz pours it on, stepping up the pace and volume of his strikes to overwhelm Conor. For the last thirty seconds Diaz has McGregor trapped against the fence and is bombarding him with shots—knees to the head from the clinch and flurries of punches. The fight could be stopped if not for McGregor’s opportunistic blocking. Conor’s too arm weary to answer back and barely survives til the bell. 10-9 Diaz.
Round 4 – McGregor’s last stand. Diaz comes out stalking but a pair of blistering lefts from Conor stiffen his legs and seem to convince him the fight’s not quite done yet. Conor lands more and more solid punches. McGregor adeptly countering Nate’s jab with straight lefts, and landing plenty of hooks and body shots inside. Diaz doesn’t like how the stand-up is going, so he pushes Conor to the fence and tries a takedown, but beautiful defense from McGregor stuffs it. They spend a litle while on fence before Conor reverses positions and they’re back to a stand-up battle. Nate lands a sharp one-two and wobbles McGregor, but “Notorious” immediately fires back with a left-handed bomb of his own, and the two trade vicious blows. Conor lands everything but the kitchen sink and Nate’s face looks like a horror movie by the end of the round. At the bell both men are covered in blood, all of it Nate’s. Remarkable comeback for McGregor after he looked finished at the end of the previous round. 10-9 McGregor.
Round 5 – (Diaz comes out for the fifth just like the fourth—with a streak of blood running from corner of his right eye, down the side of his face, and down his chest. Jeez, what the hell are his cutmen doing in the corner?)
Huge round. Might be for all the marbles right here. Nate comes out pressuring and Conor’s landing but running. Nate’s coming forward landing shots with both hands. Diaz pushes McGregor to the fence and goes for a deep double leg that McGregor somehow defends—and right in front of Dana White and Mike Tyson seated together at ringside. Undaunted, Diaz keeps Conor against the fence and tries another double leg later in the round, but an exhausted McGregor defends again. Nate’s mauling McGregor against the fence except for a brief trip by Conor. Diaz finally gets a body lock takedown in the last ten seconds, where he does some good damage on the ground even in that short time. Man, I gotta think if Diaz was successful on one of his two earlier takedown attempts, he probably would have stopped Conor because Conor was so exhausted, and he would have nowhere to run. Diaz keeping McGregor against the cage actually helped him from completely gassing out. 10-9 Diaz.
Mulligan Card: 48-47 McGregor
Official Judges; 48-47 McGregor, 47-47 draw, 48-47 McGregor
Post-Fight Final Thoughts – Holy fuckballs what a great fight. Finally, a super-hyped fight that not only lives up to, but surpasses expectations. I don’t see anything wrong with the judge who had it a draw, and truthfully, that might be a more accurate overall depiction of the fight, but judging by rounds scored you have to give the fight to McGregor. Every round was fairly cut and dry except for the second. In that round, McGregor spent three-and-a-half minutes whuppin Diaz and dropped him twice, but Diaz came on super strong in the last minute-and-a-half and had Conor badly hurt. I say three-and-a-half minutes and two knockdowns beats a minute-and-a-half and no knockdowns though.
The fourth truly turned out to be the turning point for McGregor however, as he looked on the verge of being stopped in the third and dug deep to pull out the fourth and earn an insurmountable (barring a knockout or submission anyway) three rounds to one lead. But scoring aside, the only reasonable conclusion one can draw from watching this epic back-and-forth contest is that we need to see a rubber match immediately, and at both men’s more natural weight of 155 pounds this time. In that spirit I’m reminded of what Jerry Izenberg said about the most famous rubber match of all-time, “What it came down to in Manila wasn’t the heavyweight championship of the world. Ali and Frazier were fighting for something more important than that. They were fighting for the heavyweight championship of each other.*”
McGregor and Diaz still need to prove who’s the true champ between them.
*Source: “Muhammad Ali: His Life and Times” pg. 321