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UFC 196 Blog: McGregor, Holm, Tate all making moves

Conor McGregor’s fearless approach to moving up two weight divisions is quite evident based on his relaxed demeanor as seen in the Embedded series that coincides with UFC 196.

The fascination “The Notorious” had with a fan’s balcony tribute to him gave us an insight into his mood. While the Irishman would be drained from his cuts to featherweight in the past during fight week, the replenished version of the champion allows him to be his captivating self as he visits the fan's apartment. The tears in the man’s eyes to see his hero in his living room is a stark reminder of how much McGregor means to his passionate supporters, even outside of Ireland.

The droves arriving from the Emerald Isle shocked Sin City back in July, but if McCarran International Airport is anything to go by, Vegas is ready and waiting for the arrival of the Green Army. Just beside the baggage collection, there is a shop selling McGregor’s Reebok kits for those who forgot to pack them ahead of their near daylong cross-Atlantic voyage.

Kron Gracie’s presence in the Diaz camp points to days gone by with MMA. With his father taking on all comers at different weight classes, parallels can be drawn with McGregor’s ascension in weight in the modern landscape of the sport.

Nate Diaz smiles as he greets the crowd in the Jabbawockeez Theater with a middle finger for the open workouts. Taking to the matted area with his Cesar Gracie teammate Chris Avila, Diaz effortlessly transitions into various takedowns after pummeling with the featherweight. Throwing out a few of his signature jab cross combinations, Diaz exits the stage with both middle fingers raised to the joyous crowd.

Holly Holm takes a young fan from the gathering to demonstrate her dance moves. After strutting her stuff with “The Sprinkler”, Holm goes from All- American sweetheart to ferocious fighter in the blink of an eye as she explodes into the devastating dance of kicks and punches. And despite her famed striking display, Meisha Tate explains to the gathered media to the right of the stage that she is more than capable of holding her own with the bantamweight champion.

McGregor’s punctuality, or lack thereof, leaves the crowd simmering before it erupts when he enters the matted area along with Artem Lobov, Owen Roddy and Ido Portal.

Lobov is first off to go through some grappling drills. After several takedowns, Lobov begins to imitate the tall stance of Diaz as McGregor spins spectacularly and unloads with his various techniques.

With Roddy, McGregor looks more explosive than ever as he displays his arsenal.

“Too strong,” he shouts at the end of a flurry. “Too strong,” he roars again.

Landing a left uppercut at the end of the combination, McGregor looks at Roddy and tells him, “I like that.” Then, with his eyes fixed on the crowd, “The Notorious” lets off the same combination three times with extra spice on the climactic uppercut – a sign of intent for his finishing blow on Saturday night, perhaps.

Finally, the ambassador of “Movement Culture,” Ido Portal, steps up for a series of his signature contortions with McGregor. The duo struts like various animals during their routine, propelling their bodies to the side with their fists on the ground like apes before lowering themselves to the ground to begin an elaborate slithering like a serpent.

McGregor rubs his abdomen on several occasions during his showcase. Clearly happy with the lack of dietary requirements during the workout, don’t be too surprised if the Irishman fighting at 170 pounds becomes the norm should he have his hand raised on Saturday night.

Peter Carroll is a longtime MMA journalist who writes for the Irish Mirror, FIGHTLAND and SevereMMA.com. Follow him on Twitter at @PetesyCarroll



UFC 196 Blog Part 1: A very popular replacement

DUBLIN

After weeks upon weeks of canvassing, debates and pontificating, the Republic of Ireland had its general election last Friday. Voters made their way to polling stations that were dotted around the Emerald Isle to designate their support to the various politicians that were available for selection.

On more than a few occasions, instead of issuing their selections, some voters simply wrote “Conor McGregor” on their ballot sheets.

Two days before the voting ensued, Nate Diaz joined “The Notorious” on stage for their UFC 196 press conference in California. Having only broken the news of Diaz replacing Rafael Dos Anjos the night before, it was amazing to see the lack of concern the majority of fans and media had despite the Irishman’s chances at becoming the first man to hold two UFC titles simultaneously being brought to an end.
 


The insults flew back and forth with both men enjoying joyous eruptions from the crowd, which celebrated a meeting of two men famed for their machismo on the microphone and their self-proclaimed visions of being “true martial artists”.

Despite a battle 10 years in the making taking place in the London last weekend, as interviewers, camera crews and fighters filed into the Grange Tower Bridge Hotel, there was one particular matchup that was queried more than any other – and it wasn’t Anderson Silva versus Michael Bisping.

MORE ON UFC 196: Buy tickets to UFC 196 | McGregor vs. Diaz First Staredown | Watch: UFC Minute - Inside UFC 196 Numbers | McGregor - Rogan Riffs | McGregor on UFC 194 | Holly Holm - Ready to Defend | Miesha Tate - And New | Read: Reasons to watch | McGregor doesn't disappoint in verbal war w/ Diaz | Diaz steps up, states case against McGregor | Sanchez ready to entertain on UFC FIGHT PASS | Pre-order UFC 196 PPV

Fighters from the top to the bottom of the UK card were asked about mouth-watering UFC 196 main event matchup, and although they might usually be a little bit reluctant to converse on other matchups with their own bouts being around the corner, even they couldn’t help but give their two cents.

And it’s not just the aggressive striking styles of McGregor and Diaz that make it such a contest for the fans – it’s the attitude that they bring to the Octagon. Both men are known to walk down their opponents and as their counterparts retreat, they mock them until they are either forced to exchange or they run out of room to escape in the steel-meshed enclosure.

According to Owen Roddy, McGregor’s striking coach, it is the trash talking exchanges that The Notorious is looking forward to more than anything else.

“Conor is buzzing about having that kind of fight with him,” Roddy tells me as he waits for his plane to join McGregor in Las Vegas.

“It actually has him more excited for this fight that anything else. He wants to have that little bit of back and forth with Nate, and we could see that from the press conference. Conor was enjoying that trash talk, although Nate didn’t say much.

“I was expecting a lot more from Nate during that press conference, but he just kept cursing,” Roddy adds. “There were plenty of ‘I don’t give a f*cks’, but I dunno, maybe it’s just me, but I was expecting something a lot better than that.

“Conor loves this. He enjoys giving people a bit of sh*t when he’s fighting, and if people come back with sh*t, Conor just kind of laughs it off. He doesn’t take any of that stuff too seriously. I really doubt that Nate’s talking in the Octagon will effect Conor in any way.”

With such a masterful piece of matchmaking to be manifested in front of our eyes in the MGM Grand on Saturday night, four days seems like a lifetime.

Peter Carroll is a longtime MMA journalist who writes for the Irish Mirror, FIGHTLAND and SevereMMA.com. Follow him on Twitter at @PetesyCarroll

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