World champion kickboxer Joe Schilling has trained with brothers Nick and Nate Diaz for some time. He tells The Fighter & The Kid podcast that, in sparring, he and The Brothers Diaz go at it hard.
Still, he’s never once managed to hurt them. That’s why he was so confident that Nate would beat Conor McGregor at UFC 196, even though he took the fight on short notice.
"We all knew, in the back of our heads that Nate should win this fight," he said.
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"He’s just a more experienced, higher-level fighter. I think that was obvious."
Schilling said that he was positive McGregor’s heavy punches wouldn’t have the same impact at 170 pounds, on Diaz, as they do on 145-pounders. "What I was really watching and thinking about — Conor sleeps people at 145 pounds but Nate spars with Andre Ward and myself. Sparring with those guys, I hit them hard, you know? We hit each other [expletive] hard. Not a good time," he detailed.
"Five minutes of just [expletive], and I’ve never wobbled or hurt Nate. And, I knock a lot of people out at 187 to 205. Same thing with Nick. I thought that what was going to happen was he was going to hit Nate with that same shot, Nate is not going to move and then Conor is going to be like ‘oh [expletive].’"
Broadly speaking, that is exactly what happened. If and when Diaz and McGregor do rematch, Schilling thinks Nate will be much more elusive and better conditioned, since he’d be able to actually go through a training camp this time prior to the bout.
"I think he doesn’t hit Nate nearly as much as he hit him in the first round and I think Nate puts more pressure and drowns him quicker," he predicted.
"That’s nothing against Conor. Nate is just a better fighter at that weight-class. He’s got no business at that weight-class, but it’s a money thing."