There were a number of things that I had never seen in a Conor McGregor fight until UFC 196.
One was the Irishman's complete exhaustion by the second round of the contest, another was him being visibly wobbled by Nate Diaz's jab-cross combination, just a matter of seconds before he shot in for the takedown that eventually led to his first loss in the Octagon.
'The Notorious' took his loss very graciously. Appearing before the media after the upset win, the UFC featherweight champion pointed to a lack of stamina as the reason behind his downfall.
"I feel I was simply inefficient with my energy," McGregor said "Usually, when I fight a man in the division I am the champion in and they crumble under those shots. But Nate took them very well. I think the weight allowed him to take those shots well."
Despite him being able to put his finger on what he believed led to his loss, there were still a number of people surprised when UFC announced that McGregor would meet Diaz for the second time. Both UFC president Dana White and the Dubliner himself claimed that he would return to his old stomping ground for his next bout, but McGregor's will to reclaim the win proved too great.
No New Approach
John Kavanagh's prediction of a fourth round knockout of the Stockton native in a recent Periscope Q and A led many to believe that McGregor would look to go back to his old amateur boxing roots and methodically pick Diaz apart.
His overutilization of his power left hand seemed to be one of the factors that led to him running out of gas so quickly back in March. While the first round saw the Irishman showcase a dynamic striking display, keeping Diaz guessing as he connected with shots to the head, body, and legs, when he came out for the second, the SBG frontrunner abandoned his plan and looked for the knockout blow.
One of McGregor's key sparring partners, TUF 22 finalist Artem 'The Russian Hammer' Lobov, insisted that 'The Notorious' would change nothing about his style in the second meeting with Diaz.
"If I was forced to make a prediction I'd say Conor will finish him towards the end of the second or maybe in the third round," Lobov told FloCombat.com. "Conor is definitely not going to change his style. His style has proven very successful over many fights…He's good at what he does and he's going to stick to it.
"The prediction John made is based on how tough Diaz is, rather than Conor changing anything, but I think he's giving him a lot more credit than he deserves. Conor hits too hard and nobody can take his punches if he can keep on delivering them."
Cardio is Key
Another one of the SBG contingent that has been drafted into McGregor's Las Vegas camp is Peter 'The Showstopper' Queally.
The welterweight came close to getting his UFC debut at the same event that will see McGregor rematch Diaz as he put his name forward to step in on short notice against Tim Means. However, with not enough time to secure a visa, he will have to continue to wait for a contract to be extended in his direction.
Queally revealed that cardio has been one of the main areas McGregor has focused on ahead of the rematch. With his stamina improved, 'The Showstopper' is confident that "the better martial artist" will prevail in the T-Mobile arena.
"Conor is always super fit from clocking up rounds and just general training, but this time, there is a huge emphasis on cardiovascular training," Queally told Fightland.
"We've isolated the cardio as something we want to focus on, while also keeping up our normal martial arts training. This time, I expect him to have much more in the tank.
"That was the big thing about the last fight. For me, it was clear to see who the better martial artist was in the first fight with Diaz. Conor was tuning him up in the first round as far as I'm concerned, but he just didn't have enough gas in the tank to finish the job.
"This time around people are going to see the same kind of fight from Conor. People are expecting him to dance and run around, but I can see him going in and trying to take Diaz out. This time, he won't run out of steam and I expect him to put Diaz away."
It will be interesting to see if McGregor's tank holds up in the second bout. In the first meeting, he seemed completely gassed when the fight hit the ground, and Diaz will definitely want to press home his advantage should he force the fight onto his terrain next weekend.