I kinda love the UFC. While I do have great appreciation for the UFC, there are a lot of UFC cards that don't demand my attention and so it's hard to first of all watch it when I could be watching something else and then finding an angle, a narrative, something for me to sink my teeth into and produce something like this. I'm more than a casual UFC fan, not quite a Harry Hardcore.
Last week I did manage to watch Anderson Silva lose to Michael Bisping in London, a battle of two OGs, one great, one mediocre. It was entertaining and the fact that this was in London gave it a slightly different buzz - similar to Holly Holm's win in Melbourne - but I couldn't ignore the fact that Silva and Bisping have seen their prime years drift past them.
Unlike Conor McGregor, the Irishman who didn't knock on the door, politely requesting to be the face of the UFC. McGregor broke the door down and demanded that he be the face of the UFC and here we are, whipped into a frenzy, a few days out from a fight that is the perfect substitution for a McGregor vs Rafael dos Anjos title fight.
That we were robbed of seeing McGregor and dos Anjos compete to hold two UFC belts was definitely a bummer. This is the next best thing though right? Perhaps there were other fighters more worthy of a pay-day against McGregor, as a last minute replacement for dos Anjos though, it doesn't get much better than Nate Diaz who made his bed in calling out McGregor and is now eagerly awaiting sleeping in that bed.
In terms of the actual fight, it will be entertaining as both fighters are all action. Diaz will test McGregor with his striking and jiu-jitsu if he can get McGregor down to the ground, most importantly though, we'll be treated to two strikers with differing styles, which is what the UFC is all about.
You can point to both as the underdog. Diaz is fighting the UFC's star while McGregor is moving up weight-divisions to fight Diaz; will McGregor remain as effective as he has been against a bigger dude? That's where McGregor's personal dose of funk comes in, he strikes you as the sort of athlete who is best equipped to deal with such disparities, hence McGregor is comfortable with fighting Diaz at 170lbs.
Both come from rugged backgrounds and will have their country and city behind them. McGregor has Ireland behind him, Diaz has Stockton, California behind him, two places where the weak don't survive and two places that breed a certain type of person, let alone athlete. From all accounts, fighting isn't a choice in Ireland and Stockton, it's a fact of life and while there are many facets to this match up, that both Diaz and McGregor share a pure fighting spirit is perhaps the best.
We can't sleep on the financial aspect of this fight as it will attract a large audience around the world. Diaz is like a microwave meal in a sense as he was pre-packaged as McGregor's nemesis and so the UFC were afforded the luxury of not really losing too much with dos Anjos' injury. Not only can Diaz bang with McGregor in the ring, he's also one of the few fighters who can come close to matching McGregor outside of the ring, talking up a storm, letting his fighter spirit seep through his words.
Sharing the spotlight in Las Vegas will be Holly Holm and Miesha Tate in Holm's first title defence. Following Holm's win over Ronda Rousey, far too much attention has been paid to Rousey, most of it negative, while Holm has quietly gone about her business, preparing for her next challenge; defending your title is never an easy task.
Tate fell victim to Rousey twice, as did many other female fighters and is now coming off of four wins in the ever-expanding female ranks. Both losses to Rousey came via armbar submission and Holm's strength is her striking, so it will be interesting to see if Holm can back up her epic display of punches, kicks and elbows against Rousey with a similar display against Tate.
Holm has got to start her reign as the champ off in style as everyone will see that target on her back and will be gunning for her. Despite McGregor vs Diaz ticking all the boxes in terms of fighting styles and hype, I'm very intrigued to see how Holm goes about her business as the champ, especially against a highly competitive fighter like Tate who will see this as her opportunity to get a foot in the door.
Every few months the UFC dishes up these sorts of events that you simply gotta watch. Not only do we get either McGregor vs Diaz or Holm vs Tate, we get both, two fights that will have a dramatic influence on how the UFC's future looks as the UFC continues to grow/take over.