Nate Diaz was a big underdog going into his UFC 196 headlining bout with Conor McGregor, and it seemed that most fans and media agreed with the bookmakers. But one analyst that went against the grain and picked Diaz to win was former UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans. As a guest on The MMA Hour today, he explained why he went with Diaz over McGregor (via MMA Fighting):
"When I see some of these matchups sometimes, I start analyzing them and I start thinking of them over and over again. Sometimes a favorite does something that sways me the other way. It’s something really, really subtle, but I see it.
"With McGregor, I felt like he was a lot different that last fight because -- he wasn’t the same person. It seemed like he was putting on a little bit too much just for the show. And I know the woes of putting on too much for the show because I know at the end of the day you’re taking away from what makes you sharp in the cage."
He also discussed the other things that could have thrown McGregor off a bit:
"Another problem was the fact that he didn’t have to cut weight," he said. "Now every single thing that goes into a fight is a process. For me, putting on my suit — making sure I’m suited and booted before I go out there — that helps me get to my rhythm so then I’m not analyzing every aspect of a fight before it’s time to. So for him not cutting weight, for him not having that on his mind, he then put other things on his plate that he wouldn’t normally do because he was cutting weight.
"And then, if you add the physical attributes to it, you have a guy in Conor McGregor who is dominating at his weight class because really, he’s tall and he as a cannon for his left hand. But he makes people make mistakes because he leads them to believe that he’s a lot closer than he is and then he pulls back, and then he catches them reaching. He’s either able to catch them with counter strikes or he makes them have a huge range to fulfill."
All of that does make sense. There were a lot of differences between this fight and most of his others for McGregor, including the size and reach of his opponent.
Evans returns to the cage next month against late replacement Glover Teixeira at UFC on Fox 19.