With less than a month to go before the bona fide, March 5th, super-fight between Rafael dos Anjos and Conor McGregor, I thought we could do a little preview of the UFC 196 card. The event is headlined by the aforementioned feather weight champion Conor McGregor as he moves up in weight to challenge for the light weight belt. In order to accomplish this and become the first ever dual weight champion in UFC history he will have to go through the 155 king in Rafael dos Anjos.
The card’s co-main event features Miesha Tate as she tries to take down the current women’s bantam weight champion, Holly Holm. Holm is fresh off of her monumental victory against former undefeated bantam weight queen, Ronda Rousey. Holm looked fantastic as she knocked out Rousey with a round two head kick, and Tate is coming off of a July bout in which she decisioned Jessica Eye.
Both bouts are absolutely fantastic, but it is no surprise that the main draw to this card is the dos Anjos-McGregor matchup. Both men are coming off quick finishes, with dos Anjos TKO’ing Donald Cerrone in the first round, and McGregor pulling off the fastest finish in UFC title fight history with his record, 13 second KO of Jose Aldo.
McGregor proved a lot of doubters wrong with his record setting performance at UFC 194, but he still has a lot of questions to answer, especially since he is moving up 10 pounds to fight at light weight. He has dismantled his competition at featherweight, and with the tough weight cut out of the way, one would expect to see a bigger, healthier Conor McGregor stepping onto the scale before this UFC 196 bout. As McGregor’s coach John Kavanaugh has said, “you’ve seen him on salads, watch what happens when he’s on steaks!”
Now Dos Anjos is no slouch himself. He is a veteran of the game, who over the last few years, has turned a corner in his career. He has strung together five wins in a row, with his last two having title implications. The first of which he won the title by decision in where he grounded out Anthony Pettis, and the second, being his latest bout, and first title defense, where he stopped Donald Cerrone by technical knockout. For lack of a better term, Rafael dos Anjos is a beast.
So then, it is not an unfair statement to say that dos Anjos will be the toughest test that Conor McGregor will have faced. However, this is a test that McGregor can pass. Besides his actual fighting style, McGregor’s psychological warfare may be his most effective tactic against his opponents.
For about a year, McGregor used his trash talk and silver tongue to get inside the head of Jose Aldo. Aldo continuously said that his talk did not affect him, but his performance, as short as it was, told a much different story. Aldo came out swinging in an uncharacteristic attempt to take his opponent’s head off, and what happened was he was slepted with a left hand 13 seconds into the fight.
With the Aldo fight now behind him McGregor has now turned his focus toward dos Anjos. He began his psychological assault during the UFC 196 ticket sale post conference. McGregor showed up late in donning an outfit that he described as looking like, “El Chapo in his prime.” The press conference played out as a McGregor press conference typically does. Dos Anjos barely was able to get a word in as McGregor unleashed a barrage of insults and boasts ranging from vowing to “behead” dos Anjos, to insinuating that he [McGregor] is a god.
Dos Anjos didn’t seem to be too rattled, and appeared to shutout McGregor and his talk. After all, if dos Anjos wants to walk away victorious he cannot let McGregor into his head. So then, what did dos Anjos say to the media just a few weeks after the press conference? Well he said, “he's in my head just like every other opponent before”. Not exactly the smartest thing to say to a guy like McGregor, but hey what do I know? Maybe he’s using reverse psychology to get into Conor’s head.
Either way, this is going to be a sensational fight, and regardless of the outcome, UFC history will be made. I just hope this fight goes a little longer than 13 seconds, but hey with Conor McGregor, the fight has the potential of ending at any point.
By Jake Cianci