If we had to describe Conor McGregor’s fighting style in one word, it would be deceptive.
You may say that stylish, wild, or any other number of adjectives would fit as well, but I disagree.
McGregor is, as a fighter, a counter-striker. He baits his opponents into his range and land his most effective weapon, the left cross.
This style was even more evident in his pre-UFC days, most notable in the Ivan Buchinger knockout. When he arrived in the UFC, he used the same style to much effect against Marcus Brimage in his debut.
Watch how he baits an emotional reaction with holding his hands open, when in reality, they are ready to launch a strike as soon as the opponent loses his cool.
After that, he seemingly transitioned into a more aggressive fighter, plodding forward, constantly pressing the attack, always being first.
However, that was his style all along. Conor is not only a counter-striker, he is an aggressive counter-striker. He uses his constant pressure to bully fighters and force them into exchanges, where he is suddenly gone and they have been hit with a counter-punch. What makes this style possible is his excellent use of range.
A big part of his game are the flashy capoeira techniques and the teakwondo kicks. The spinning back kick, which more closely resembles a mule kick that a traditional TKD technique, is also much faster and McGregor has used it effectively again opponents of similar size, where the ribs are at just the right height to dig his heel in.
In the Diaz fight, he abandoned the spinning back kick and instead went head-hunting with a wheel kick, which did not have the anticipated effect, as they never went close to Nate.
The unusual techniques also play a role in his distance control: they are meant to confuse the opponent thinking it is safe to move in, when in fact, a counter is ready, waiting for them
And here comes in the Celtic cross: the weapon that took out Jose Aldo, Chad Mendes and Dustin Porier to name just few.
Does it have the power to take out Nate Diaz this time? Or will the fight end same as the last one? Or, could we even see a decision?
Stay tuned for more UFC 202 news, analysis, training footage and betting odds.