Conor McGregor vs. Nate Diaz (Welterweight main event)
You might dislike him for his outrageous proclamations and his unflappable confidence, but McGregor is here to stay. First slated to take on lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos in a superfight, “Notorious” faces former 155-pound title challenger Nate Diaz on short notice.
As if you thought McGregor wasn’t going to fight? He won’t miss a payday.
Diaz is in over his head here. Despite being a southpaw and quite the rangy boxer — like McGregor — speed and accuracy kills, which will ultimately lie with the Irishman.
Oh, but McGregor is moving up in weight? Moving up multiple divisions will undoubtedly affect his speed. However, there have been notable stars, namely ex-middleweight champion Anderson Silva, who’ve made successful ventures up a weight class.
Diaz can take a beating and always comes forward, but McGregor will school him.
Prediction: McGregor via first-round TKO
Holly Holm (C) vs. Miesha Tate (Women’s bantamweight co-main event)
Holm will make her first title defense over two-time title challenger Miesha Tate, who is the owner of a four-fight win streak. The former boxing champion ousted Ronda Rousey from her perch atop the women’s 135-pound division back in November and wanted to defend her title right away. It’s not as if she had a choice with Rousey dabbling in modeling and Hollywood consistently — not to mention injuries.
What Holm did to Rousey was pretty … pretty damn disturbing. Her speed, accuracy and footwork is an absolute joy to watch. Much of that is skill, but I’d be remiss if I failed to mention her outstanding coaching staff at the Jackson-Wink MMA Academy. Greg Jackson and Mike Winkeljohn always put together the best gameplan for their fighters and it’s showed not only with Holm, but also with Jon Jones, Carlos Condit and more.
That will be the difference in this contest.
Tate, 29, has the experience of fighting top-tier competition and has succeeded for the most part. “Cupcake” boasts wins over Sara McMann, Liz Carmouche and Marloes Coenen. However, Tate has faltered twice against Rousey and on another occasion to Cat Zingano.
She’s tenacious and gritty, and will probably do a better job of cutting off the cage against Holm like Rousey should’ve done, but I don’t think she possesses the intangibles. Tate won’t be able to escape certain positions.
I don’t think she loses in round one, though. It will be a fun exchange.
Prediction: Holm via third-round TKO
Written by Brad Popkin