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5 Key Differences That Made A Massive Impact In Conor McGregor's Victory Over Nate Diaz

5 Key Differences That Made A Massive Impact In Conor McGregor's Victory Over Nate Diaz
By Mikey Traynor

It was said to be too close to call in the lead-up to the main event of UFC 202, and after five bloody, gritty, and exhausting rounds of fighting it was as close as we thought it was going to be.

Conor McGregor's hand was raised and the Dubliner was back to winning ways, and although Nate Diaz was adamant he had done enough to win the fight and many fight fans agree with him, it was an impressive display from McGregor who managed to prove all who thought that the rematch was a bad idea wrong.

Conor made a lot of changes for the rematch. We had heard about it more and more over the past few months as we got closer to fight-week, not least about the $300,000 he had spent on this camp, but it made a difference. A big difference.

We saw a different Conor McGregor in the octagon this time than we did last time out, and here are five key differences that helped turn the result around.

A night and day contrast in his focus.

Some felt that McGregor letting his emotions get the better of him at the pre-fight press conference was a sign that Diaz had gotten into his head, that McGregor was going to fight an emotionally charged fight, but the reality was something very different.

Whereas last time Conor was poking Nate's belly at the weigh-ins, and laughing as he strutted to the ring to 'El Chapo' by The Game, this time he looked like he was ready to kill.

The return to the Foggy Dew/Hypnotize mash up will have been met with a sign of relief from McGregor fans, as although it was just the walkout music, it was an acknowledgment that he wasn't fully focused last time out.

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The composure McGregor showed in not going for the finish when he dropped Nate on three occasions showed that he was composed, focus, and most definitely not fighting with his emotions running high.

The massive emphasis on leg kicks.

Artem Lobov set the blueprint earlier in the night when he completely prevented Diaz's teammate Chris Avila from fighting, and Conor McGregor followed suit by putting the plan into action again and badly impeded Nate's movement.

Following this strategy proves what McGregor and coach John Kavanagh had been saying in that this was the first time they had prepared specifically for their next opponent, as Rafael Dos Anjos had set the blueprint to taking Diaz out of his comfort zone before.

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One of the main criticisms of Conor's performance in the first fight was that he didn't utilise the leg kicks enough, so this time he came out and made a point of hammering that lead leg, and it worked very well.

Avoiding the ground-game through composure and takedown defense.

Conor McGregor has always had impressive takedown defense - even when Chad Mendes managed to get him to the deck at UFC 189, the Irishman was able to prevent a number of attempts - but the ability to continue to stuff takedowns right up until the final minute of the fight was absolutely crucial.

Diaz was getting decent success from the clinch, and tried to take McGregor down against the cage on a number of occasions, particularly in the fourth and fifth rounds, but it was not until time was running out to the point where Diaz couldn't do significant damage that he finally succeeded.

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McGregor had been talking up the fast improvements he had made to his jiu-jitsu in this camp, but we didn't get a chance to see it, and that's a big factor in why Conor was awarded the decision.

Also notable was the patience and composure shown when he dropped Diaz. If nothing was on offer he was allowed back to his feet to avoid the danger a Diaz guard would present.

Swallowing his pride and taking a breather when needed.

Conor McGregor was booed for running away and getting some space to allow him to breathe.

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What was the alternative? Stand there and trade despite knowing you were blowing hard, take punishment, maybe try for a takedown? If that sounds familiar it's because it is what he did the first time.

This time around McGregor knew he had to evade. It's not like he spent minutes at a time catching his breath, but by getting away he bought himself time and despite Diaz mocking him, make the smart decision. This helped no end when it came to having something left in the tank later on. He couldn't punch his way out of those engagements, he needed to get out and he did.

That second wind.

We knew he would be in better shape after gassing early the last time, but the fourth round was absolutely vital for Conor McGregor.

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Nate Diaz had the Irishman very worried at the end of the second round, and totally dominated the third which one judge scored as a (very plausible) 10-8, so many thought the finish was imminent. Conor had gassed again, Nate had grown into the fight again, and the end was nigh.

But instead, Conor got a second wind and won the fourth, which in turn won him the fight. McGregor kept his distance, picked his shots, kept working on the leg kicks, and kept Diaz's flurries from the clinch to a minimum after the trouble they cause in previous rounds.

His conditioning was in a much better place than it was in March, as there were now reserves once the gas tank hit a critical level.

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SEE ALSO: 3 Conspiracy Theories Surfacing After McGregor Vs Diaz II That Just Need To Stop Right Now

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