When Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz first met at UFC 196 a few months ago, one of the spectators in the crowd was former UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre. Suffice to say, GSP was very much entertained at the highly compelling bout that took place between UFC’s featherweight champ from Ireland and the bad boy from the 209.
Just like every spectator in attendance, GSP’s jaw dropped when Diaz came from being bloodied and battered for five minutes to winning via shocking submission victory. One of the key factors that played into the fight, according to GSP, is the mental game.
Lion vs Gazelle
We all know both Nate and Conor are inherent tough guys, so the fight came down to who was stronger mentally.
“Yeah, the way I see it is McGregor and Nate Diaz are both ‘bully’ fighters, and the worst thing that can happen to a bully is when the tables get turned around and he gets bullied himself,” said GSP, in a recent interview with Bloody Elbow.
“That’s what happened to Conor McGregor, that’s why he lost that fight. Conor McGregor used to bully people and put people away in the first round because he’s such an amazing fighter, and he gets into people’s heads. But what happened was, he couldn’t put Diaz away because Diaz is very resilient.”
GSP knows a thing or two about the mental game, having faced Nate’s brother Nick a few years ago. Keeping calm under duress is a quality every champion should possess. Unfortunately, McGregor was unable to figure out a way to recover from a Diaz punch that paved the way for the rear-naked choke.
I’m not surprised
The Canadian MMA legend likened the sequence to a marathon.
“If I make an analogy it’s like Conor McGregor was pacing himself for a 400 meters race. He gave everything, but at the end of this 400 meters race, now somebody was telling him, ‘I’m sorry, you’re not done yet, you have another 400 meters to do’,” said GSP.
“And if you didn’t pace yourself, if you go all out thinking you’re going to arrive at the finish line at 400 meters, now you have another 400 meters – you’re done. There was lot of mental breakdown into that fight, and I think it’s a great example of how a Diaz brother can already beat people mentally, and they’re very good at it. When I fought Nick I was ready for that.”