UFC 196 was a huge event which was billed and promoted as a showdown between Conor McGregor and Rafael Dos Anjos. The event was historic for a number of reasons, but none more so than it was the scene in which McGregor was delivered his first loss in the UFC. But it wasn’t delivered by Dos Anjos. Fans will remember that the Brazillian pulled out of the fight and that Nate Diaz replaced him on just eleven days’ notice. The bout was fought at welterweight due to the lack of time for Diaz to cut weight, but it was hardly the size disparity between the two that led to a startling submission. Diaz’ disrespectful treatment of Conor in the cage was a far more poignant talking point.
One of the most disdainful acts a fighter can undertake in MMA is to slap their opponent. The move says, ‘I don’t have even have to strike you to have you covered’. In a sport where fighters often try to quell their opponents as quickly as possible, slapping shows confidence that they don’t believe the opponent to be a threat. And imagine doing that to a man who is renowned as being one of the best strikers in the world, not just the UFC!
During UFC 196, Diaz bitch-slapped McGregor a startling six times! Sure, some of McGregor’s fighting words in the lead up to fights have been pretty disrespectful themselves, so many pundits feel this was a bit of a turning point for how McGregor internalised a taste of his own medicine. The first slap is met with a wry grin by McGregor. Obviously, to laugh off a move like that is a great defence, but what it showed Diaz was that he knew what had happened. With each subsequent slap, more and more of the grin was wiped from the Irishman’s face until his confidence was shot and he realised hwe was in trouble.
One exchange sees Diaz slap Conor before following up with a left cross that rattles him. McGregor goes for a rushed takedown, an ill-advised move against one of the best BJJ artists out there. Diaz flips the tables before submitting the Irishman by rear naked choke in a fight of the Night-wiunning performance. Diaz will return to the UFC after 2 years off, on November 3 against Dustin Poirier in a Lightweight bout at UFC230.