Interesting match up.
Firstly – Conor has fought at 145 for the last couple of years – since he has been in the UFC. He was the 145 and 155 champ whilst fighting in CageWarriors, so the fact that he was scheduled to jump up to 155 after beating Aldo, was not a surprise.
However, taking a fight at 170, on less than a month’s notice (I think?) seems pretty mental. I’m sure he would have been cutting from around 170 to make lightweight, but to fight at 170, he would have had to choose to either be
1. Very small for that weight or
2. He would have had to pack on extra weight over the last few weeks.
If he did in fact, smash on a load more muscle after confirming the fight at 170 – you’ve got to think he’s on the special vitamins, and in addition, his cardio must surely be effected. His body won’t have adapted to moving around, tolerating the lactic acid etc that an extra 10-20lbs of bodyweight will create – unless he’s eating EPO and/or equipoise for breakfast. Which is quite possible.
McGregor is 5ft 9, Nate is 6ft (although I’m sure he used to be 6ft 1).
Conor can counter-punch, and lead with the exchanges (especially with kicks). He is used to being the taller fighter though, and like to use his straight punches – jabs and crosses, that usually represent the combos of the taller fighter (short guys like Mark Hunt tend to prefer looping punches like his trademark jumping Russian left hook, or Fedor’s overhand right).
It’s only a 2 inch difference in reach, and Conor has far better striking – more accurate and a greater array of strikes – so I’m sure he can overcome the ‘disadvantage’ but I’ll certainly be watching with interest. Nate won’t make it easy.
Conor could conceivably use kicks to counter Nate’s punches. Every time Nate throws a jab that’s just short of the mark, Conor may like to counter with a headkick of a front-kick to the body. Nate isn’t really a kicker, although he likes to throw the odd front kick. We’ll have to see if he incorporates this as part of his game plan.
Nate will no doubt be trying to drag the fight into the 3rd round+, and will be throwing the default Stockon-slaps in peppering clusters to try and outwork the Irishman. If he can avoid the early onslaught by making Conor work hard to close the distance, I think he has a chance.
I don’t know too much about Conor’s grappling credentials. He finishes a lot of guys with strikes on the ground – again by using his reach, and straight-accurate strikes or hammerfists to finish a wobbled & floored opponent. If it does go to the ground, it will be interesting…Nate has a good guard – triangles and guillotines (Cody Mckenzie-esk) so Conor will have to be careful he he does go in for the kill on the floor.
I think Conor will probably take this, but given the odds, I’m betting on Nate. Conor is technically and athletically superior to Nate, but Conor can’t make Nate angry – Nate is angry anyway as default, so his usually psychological edge may not be present.
Nate is also bigger, longer and probably has much better cardio.
Looking forward to this one…