With the headliner of Nate Diaz vs Conor McGregor 2, most tend to skim over the rest of the fight card. UFC 202 has many intriguing fights with ramifications that could effect the landscape of the UFC. Here are the top matches along with breakdowns of the matchup, predictions and information that will make the UFC 202 card worthwhile.
Here we go!
Cody “No Love” Garbrandt vs. Takuya Mizugaki (Bantamweight):
A bantamweight matchup that has a lot more to offer than its prelim spot. Mizugaki is a longtime fighter with a professional record of 21-9-2. He ranks as the #11 bantamweight in the UFC rankings. He’s not the knockout/submission artist that his opponent is, but he is well rounded in terms of takedown accuracy and his ability to defend the takedown. He gives away 1 inch in height but has the same leg reach of his opponent. Mizugaki is a veteran that will be a big test for Cody Garbrandt, an up and coming prospect. Garbrandt’s road to success hasn’t been pretty, however he is one of the hottest names as a fighter that could reach star level fame in the next few years as the #8 bantamweight in the division. He has the looks, chops and fighting ability to find himself among the best bantamweights in the near future. Garbrandt has the striking prowess and he boasts a 3.92 significant strikes per minute rate. This bests his opponent by a short margin.
Prediction: Cody “No Love” Garbrandt. He NEEDS fights to further his career and move toward a title shot. Just this week Garbrandt told reporters he wants to be the star that Connor McGregor is. For that to happen ,”No Love” needs a win against a skillful veteran.
Rick “The Horror” Story vs. Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone (Welterweight):
This bout features an underrated fighter (Story) taking on the task of dethroning a fan favorite who has seen a meteoric rise in the last few years. Both Story and Cerrone are UFC veterans and Cerrone has the fanfare that most would not see at a #14 ranking in the welterweight class. Cerrone’s stock was on the rise until he took a tough loss against Rafael Dos Anjos which dropped him in the rankings. Story is on the upswing after being down on his luck the last few years. The #9 welterweight, he lacks 3 inches in height and 2 inches in reach to Cerrone. Story possesses serious grit and that is what has allowed him to climb back into relevancy.
Prediction: Rick “The Horror” Story. In Cerrone’s last bout the Cowboy looked out of place, perhaps believing the hype surrounding him. Story looks to make this a surprise victory, even though he boasts the higher ranking in this division.
Anthony “Rumble” Johnson vs. Glover Texeira (Heavyweight):
Holy knockout power! This match boasts the #1 and #2 Heavyweights in the UFC. Each man has fought for the Heavyweight crown; Glover losing to Jon Jones and Rumble losing to Daniel Cormier for the interim title. Johnson has freakish athleticism and can strike with the best of them. His bout against Alexander Gustafson left his opponent bloodied and on the verge of retiring. Johnson is a man who means business. Texeira has great striking as well but lacks the speed and athleticism of Johnson. This has all the makings of bloodbath, which is always fun for the fans.
Prediction: Anthony “Rumble” Johnson. Speed, Power, and Athletiscm. I don’t think Glover Texeira can match it. Look for Johson to put a little style into it and he wants to vindicate himself for a rematch against Cormier. Rumble needs to prove to himself and the UFC that he is a star and deserving of a title shot.
Nick Diaz vs. Conor McGregor 2 (Welterweight):
Well, this just got interesting. By now hopefully you saw the spat that Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz went through. To break it down just a little bit, Conor McGregor showed up to the pre fight press conference before it was suppose to begin, believing that he knew the original start time. Nate Diaz on the other hand had no intention of being there at the believed time. Diaz came in, throwing the bird to whoever it came down to. This left McGregor to grab the mic and do what he does best, talk smack. This then led to water bottles being thrown at each other and their camps. The main event of UFC 202. This matchup has the most riding on it. A rematch between Nate Diaz and Conor McGregor promises to have more fireworks than the previous matchup. The first contest between these two was deemed a “Super Match.” McGregor decided to go up 2 weight classes (145 to 170) right after he knocked out longtime featherweight champion Jose Aldo in 13 seconds. His mouth is legendary and when he speaks people listen. He has put Ireland on the map and brought a huge fan base to the UFC. This all equals revenue for the UFC. Nate Diaz, on the other hand, is just a long time welterweight from Stockton, California, that loves the fight game. The brother of Nick Diaz, his persona extends outside of the octagon. The first bout against these two ended with Diaz submitting McGregor by rear naked choke. The bought made more money than the UFC predicted. It was only a few weeks after the fight that Diaz vs McGregor 2 was announced for UFC 200. This bout had to be rescheduled when McGregor was not guaranteed millions, and he threatened to quit UFC. Diaz had a field day with that, saying he never quit anything. With the demand of this rematch and the trash talk of Diaz and McGregor, the match was set for UFC 202.
Breaking down this match is difficult. McGregor has the same issue as in their first fight; going up in weight. Putting on 25 useful pounds is difficult. His fighting style must change as well. At featherweight, McGregor’s speed and striking is what allows him to stand out and dominate opponents. At welterweight, he is undersized and has a reach disadvantage. Diaz is a high level striker and has both a height and reach advantage. Diaz can grapple and is highly effective with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. This has allowed him to fight in the top MMA league for many years with a record of 20-10. Look for McGregor’s conditioning to be much improved from the first fight. Having a full training camp will McGregor to feel more comfortable at 170 pounds. Diaz will look to recreate his game plan from UFC 196 and simply stand tall and not be afraid to go after the featherweight champion. If Diaz gets McGregor on the ground, look for Diaz to work for a submission. If they stand and fight and McGregor carries his 170 pounds well, look for a slugfest.
Prediction: Conor McGregor. Even though Nate Diaz has the upper hand in height, reach, and experience at welterweight, McGregor has the motivation to avenge his loss to Diaz at UFC 196. For the UFC, and his own sanity, McGregor HAS to win.