Conor McGregor vs Nate Diaz: Keys to Victory and Exploits in Conor’s Habits (Part 3 of 3)

We continue off finishing the keys to victories for Nate Diaz. This write up builds off the previous piece so if you missed the begining of Conor McGregor vs Nate Diaz, go here:   Conor McGregor vs Nate Diaz style breakdown part 1

What Frankie Edgar Mentions

One of the keys to victories Frankie Edgar has mentioned about Nate beating McGregor is to take away those kicks. This is vitally important because if you can defuse the kicks, you can essentially defuse the tools that’s keeping you from entering the range you need. There lies the problem! Nate has historically lacked signs of effectively handling kicks. He may block them, but he won’t answer them aggressively. Nate needed to punish kicks to ensure he can deter their use.

There have been many fighters who have been able to punish Conor’s kicking. For Nate to be successful, countering those kicks is vital if we wants to enter the boxing range. Here a few boxing options for Nate to counter kicks according to what other fighter’s have managed to capitalize on.


max sidestep hooks conor
Max bypasses the linear trajectory of a kick with a simultaneous sidestep lead hook counter that moves away from the power side of the kick.
petrosyan sidestep lead counter on kick.gif
Note the sidestep hook works against roundhouse kicks as well. Demonstrated by the legends, Buakaw and Giorgio Petrosyan.
max check hook counters conors kick
The check hook. Max pivots away from the power side of the kick.
siver sidestep jab counters conor's kick
Siver demonstrates moving away from the power side of kicks.

Nate isn’t quite known for his takedown ability, but he can use a kick catch the leg in order to transition into takedowns. Threatening kicks with takedowns can prove to be a deterrent down the line. It could be a good method of allowing Nate to transition into his ground game a well.

stephen gets kick caught edited
Matt Brown punishing Steven Thompson’s kick.

Nate can potentially use his striking to engage in his clinch game if he’s looking to get on the inside.

nate clinch 2.gif

Nate throwing a cross and using it to transition into the clinch range.

This may potentially act as an entry way for Nate to transition into his ground game through his Judo. Considering Nate’s BJJ Background and record of submitting many opponents, it would be a good plan for him to use those strengths against Conor.

A Glimpse of Success

For an evasive opponent, Nate may want to utilize attacks that work well to close distance and throw off the rhythm of the opponent’s movement. Using his double striking may prove useful as it worked against Rory MacDonald. Double striking disrupts the opponent’s reaction because fighters don’t typically expect their opponent to strike twice with the same hand. It would be a good idea to use striking in conjunction with cutting off the cage to trap the opponent. If Nate can get the evasive fighter close to the cage, it will be an ideal time trap them in order to work on the inside.

nate double up cross.gif
Nate gets Rory close enough to the cage. Nate proceeds to to throws a cross while shifting his stance forward to double up. The secound strike catches Rory by surprise and he’s unable to escape at that point.

A Habit that Nate may Never Exploit

There is one particular habit that fighters can take advantage of when fighting Conor. Exploiting this entails the use of stance switching footwork, movement that’s uniquely observable by fighters like T.J. Dillashaw and Dominick Cruz.

If we look at previous styles that have clashed with Conor, we can take aspects of Chad Mendes vs Conor. Chad landed several times when he approached with his shifting cross (striking while switching stances).

How might this be useful for stifling Conor’s style? You see, Conor counters a lot while on the move and there’s one thing that remains constant about his counter strikes nearly every time—he always ends in the same stance. If you’re unfamiliar with fighting, every stance has an weak area where they can’t strike well in. Many refer to this as the fighter’s weak side. In short, it’s basically the area outside the opponent’s lead foot where the opponent’s attacks are limited.

Let me give you an example (if you already know the weak side, just skip this Overeem example).

overem cross shifting dip.gif
Note that Overeem moves his head outside of Junior’s lead leg. This is considered the weak side because Junior has very limited tools to attack. His cross can’t reach to that angle and kicks don’t can’t reach that position either.

Back to Conor, when he moves, he ends in the same southpaw stance. This means wherever he moves, his weak side doesn’t dynamically change.

conor movement.gif
Conor always moving while staying in the same southpaw stance.

In contrast, fighters like Dominick Cruz constantly change stances while moving away; by doing this, it constantly changes where his weak side is, so fighter’s can’t take advantage of his weak side.

cruz stance switch on shifting comp.gif
Cruz constantly switching his stance and denying T.J. a chance to use his weak side.

With Conor, his weak side doesn’t change as he moves back. This means that a fighter can close distance on Conor looking to use his weak side. Lets look at an example of what I’m talking about.

chad shifting power.gif
Chad Throws a shifting Cross. Chad moves his head while shifting his stance to get an angle on Conor’s weak side.

Conor moves back while retaining the same southpaw stance, he’s unable to reach Chad’s head on his weak side since it goes further outside of Conor’s lead leg where it’s harder for the cross to reach.

Fighters like Dominick Cruz and T.J. Dillashaw often changes stances going on the offensive. If you don’t change stances on them, they will take advantage of your weak side.

TJ power shifting slow mo
T.J. uses stance shifting to move forward, placing his head into the weak side of the opponent. From that angle, Barao has no bearing to reach a counter cross in that angle.
cruz shifting cross escape.gif
Dominick Cruz using stance shifting to move his feet laterally further out to the opponent’s weak side. Faber has no viable way to reach his counter cross to the weak side.

Since Conor moves back assuming the same fighting stance, there is room for fighters to strategically take control of his weak side.

If I could digress for a moment, talk of Conor moving to compete in the welterweight division really sparks a lot of interest whether it’s good or bad. But if we can focus on styles for a moment, it would be most interesting to see fighters with good footwork challenge Conor’s technical intelligence. All the talk about size difference aside, the stylistic match up leaves a lot of room out there about Conor’s ability to handle a stance switcher.

Back to Nate Diaz, he doesn’t quite use the kind of footwork fighters like Chad Mendes, Dominick Cruz or T.J. Dillashaw. With that, it’s possible to exploit Conor’s stance, but it’s not likely since Nate isn’t exactly known for dynamic footwork.

Final Note

This fight can go either way. None are complete fighters in every facet of the game, but they both offer very real threats that give them both a chance at winning. We as analyst can’t always predict the outcome, but we can present you with all the information you need to know about their habits. Come fight day, we never truly know what kind of new tricks these fighters end up developing. Here’s to hoping that these fighters come in lasting long enough to display some interesting new stuff for us, especially since Conor has been mentioning new movements and weapons in his arsenal he didn’t get to show in the Aldo fight.

(Here’s a post fight analysis of what went down after the McGregor vs Diaz fight)

Previous write up on Anderson Silva vs Michael Bisping.

My main page for the list of other breakdowns.

I often visit TMMAC to chat if you want to join the discussion.


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