Nate Diaz and Miesha Tate have big tasks ahead of them at UFC 196. Diaz, on short notice, is facing one of the sport’s best strikers, while Tate is challenging for the bantamweight title against someone not named Ronda Rousey. Both are big underdogs, but as Holly Holm proved to us just a few short months ago, anything can happen.
Mindful of the Take Downs
Miesha’s best path to victory hinges on her wrestling. Whether it’s a grind-y decision or nabbing a submission, Tate needs to get the fight on the ground to win. Miesha will have to pick and choose her takedown attempts very carefully, though. One of Ronda’s biggest mistakes was charging headlong at Holm, eating shots and tiring herself out in the process. Tate needs to time her shots and try to catch Holm moving forward on counters when looking to get the fight on the mat.
Not Too Aggressive
Holly’s gameplan in this fight will probably closely resemble her fight with Ronda — a few punches, a lot of circling away. Tate can’t spend the entire fight in chase mode as she doesn’t have the cardio for it. If she does over commit and charges in, Holly’s likely to stop on a dime and just blast Tate with straight punches and then keep circling away. However, if Miesha is a bit more methodical and stalks Holly, there’s a good chance two MMA judges will score multiple rounds in her favor. On a somewhat related note, Tate needs to keep her left hand up. She did much better in the Jessica Eye fight, but had a bad habit of keeping her left hand at hip height. That’s just begging for a Holm headkick to slide up in Tate’s DMs and ruin her whole night.
Nate’s biggest advantage is on the ground, but one look at his narrow ass will tell you that his wrestling skills aren’t that great. He does have a few trips that have born success, but whatever the method, even butt scoots and guard pulls, Diaz has to get it to the mat. Nate has a good arsenal of submissions, so his attack should be varied to try and catch Conor off-guard. Even giving up position momentarily (if a better sub is available) might not be a terrible option in this case.
I’m not sure what it is about Nick and Nate, but they have an uncanny ability to get opponents to abandon sound gameplans and just trade punches. Whether it’s taunts, sh*t talking, the Stockton Slaps, or just the appeal of landing a megaton punch on a guy standing flat-footed and making “come at me, bro” arms, way too many fighters go the route of STAND-N-BANG versus the Diaz Bros. Conor’s got a big edge in striking, with his devastating kicks and serpentine movements, but if Nate can piss off McGregor just enough to wade forward, Diaz has a much better chance of winning if he can’t get the fight on the ground.