Conor McGregor undertook a huge risk in his attempt to make history. But the question is, did his gamble pay off?
Simple facts – McGregor stepped up two weight divisions. He did not have to undertake a harsh weight cut. His foe changed on late notice. On the flip side, this meant Diaz basically did not have a training camp and was meant to be a mere speed bump in the progress of the Irish sensation. It failed.
The fight made sense; they both talk audacious trash so despite such little time to hype the fight the sales would never drop. Also, Diaz is not known for his blow away power so would never have inflicted a crushing loss. After all, McGregor is the biggest cash cow for the UFC and no corporation wishes to endanger the prize asset.
There were many reasons for the loss, but perhaps the most worrying was the lack of variation. His characteristic wide based lackadaisical style was evident but the normal fluid transition between attacks was thrown off by loading up with power. Perhaps he has indulged in his own hype and become punch drunk but the crushing left was simply absorbed by the bigger opponent.
Unfortunately, his experiment also had the unwanted side effect of landing a template to dethrone the Irish joker. Close distance by swarming him then finish with the ground game. You simply cannot let him dictate pace and distance. This was partially highlighted by Mendes who rag dolled the Irish man for two rounds only to run empty on his gas tank. But now it sets up all future opponents with an obvious game plan.
His undefeated legacy in the UFC and his fifteen-fight win streak has been shattered. He will most likely return to featherweight to remove his last main threat in Edgar and regain ascendency. His clearing of the division will be a true marker in the pound for pound claim.
Conceivably, this was the warm up event for his full on assault on the higher weight classes. If he learns from this fight and focuses on his defence and patience he can achieve success. The early signs are there too – the ‘inefficient’ energy use refers to his fixation on finding the highlight reel with each punch.
The only sure way to judge the outcome of the trial is by his future performances. If he takes the silver lining, the limit is the sky. But at this moment the risk does seem to outweigh the benefit.