UFC 196 is happening on pay-per-view this Saturday, and the reasons to tune in are obvious and near endless.
But for those Rip Van Winkles who have just woken up from a months-long slumber, here are the top five reasons we simply can’t wait to watch UFC 196 this weekend. Read on, and let us know what you’re most looking forward to!
1. The tactical aggression in the main event
In case ya hadn’t heard — featherweight champion Conor McGregor is now fighting Nate Diaz, instead of Rafael dos Anjos … at welterweight. Yeah, we know, it’s nuts.
In addition to being a spectacle in and of itself, this fight is fascinating because it pits two extremely aggressive, and technical fighters against one another. Just from a striking perspective, McGregor and Diaz are some of the most effective hitters in the sport.
Diaz has the height and reach and is a master of volume punching. McGregor isn’t gun-shy, either, but he mixes in unorthodox kicks, high and low, in with well-timed and well-placed punches.
Both men move their feet plenty, but there will likely be many striking exchanges in the pocket — and that’s something fans won’t want to miss.
2. The trash talk
As good as the action should be between McGregor and Diaz, the verbal warfare could be just as spirited.
Many fighters talk trash leading up to fights. McGregor and Nate are two of the few fighters to do it a lot during their fights, as well.
McGregor tries to tell his opponents that what they’re dishing out ain’t nothin’. Diaz taunts opponents to get them to charge in, mocks them when he hurts them and flips double birds while locking on submissions. Suffice to say, this will be a show, from word to blow.
3. The contrast in styles between Holly Holm and Miesha Tate
Yes, Holly Holm is much more than a phenomenal striker at this point in her MMA career. But she is a striking-based fighter, and Holm will want to keep things on the feet.
Miesha Tate is also well-rounded and very comfortable throwing and taking strikes. But she is a wrestler at heart, and will want to get this fight to the mat.
Whoever is best able to impose their strategy will likely win.
I’m betting Tate will be more patient than Ronda Rousey was when she tried to close the distance against Holm and take her down. If she is, this co-main event could end up being very tactical and cautious.
It will be interesting to see who gets frustrated first and makes the first mistake, and which woman makes the other pay more for their slip-ups.
4. To see how McGregor looks and fights at 170 pounds
Conor McGregor is jumping up 25 pounds heavier than his usual weight in this contest. He has said that he hopes to one day campaign for the welterweight title.
This is McGregor’s first chance to show how much of his speed and power carries over to bigger weight classes. If he looks just as speedy against Diaz as he does at 145 pounds, the Irishman will likely be heartened to continue his heavier-weight risks.
If he can stun or take out Diaz at 170 pounds, when few have ever been able to do the same to the Stockton warrior, McGregor will be confident that his featherweight fists can still inflict damage a couple classes up.
Really, there is no way to know how McGregor will look and fight at welterweight until we see it. And boy are we stoked.
5. To see who the crowd gets behind in the main event
At the press conference formally announcing their match up, both McGregor and Diaz had their share of supporters. McGregor is one of the most popular fighters in the world, and avid fans travel across oceans to see him fight.
Diaz’s authenticity and exciting style speak to fans as well, and he and his brother Nick have been cult-heroes who made good, ratings-wise, in recent years. McGregor will have his legions, but I’m betting Diaz will have his own as well.
My bet is that McGregor will get the loudest pop as he walks into the arena. Though as the action ebbs and flows, so too may the cheers.
If Diaz survives into the later rounds and starts imposing his will, count on fans to root on the underdog.
Of course, I could be wrong. Which is just another reason to watch — to see what happens.