The Nate Diaz Blueprint: Why Bisping beats Rockhold

michael bisping

Can Michael Bisping go into the main event of UFC 199 against a deadly opponent without a full training camp and win? Of course, just ask Nate Diaz.

The younger Diaz brother knows a thing or two about pulling off an upset with little to no camp to build on. He famously did so at UFC 196 against Conor McGregor, coming in on 11 days’ notice to submit the Irishman in the second round.

Bisping is entering UFC 199 against Luke Rockhold, a man who’s submitted him before, on less than two weeks’ notice. And the big question is: Can Bisping pull off a Nate Diaz? The answer would be yes, because the two are more similar than you’d think.

Cardio for days

What makes fighters like Diaz and Bisping ideal for short-notice fights is that they’re always in shape. They don’t pack a lot of muscle and they’re (to quote McGregor) “efficient with their energy.” They can push the pace for five rounds without blowing their stamina, and not having to worry about gassing out helps them zero in on more pressing matters, like the guy in front of them.

Punches in bunches

The pitfall of quick finishers like McGregor and Ronda Rousey is that if the finish doesn’t come as early as expected, then the rest of the fight seems like an ad-lib, unrehearsed and inefficient. Like Diaz, Bisping doesn’t have this problem. Yes, he has 19 wins via KO/TKO and 4 via submission, but he doesn’t bank on the kill shot; he wears you down, like Diaz does. Meanwhile, Rockhold is clearly eying the quick stoppage and has stated that he bets his fight purse that their rematch won’t go past the first round. If he focuses too much on that opening frame, then Bisping might have the upper hand if they get past it.

Thick skin

Like Diaz, Bisping has a knack for smack talk and is hard to beat when it comes to psychological warfare. You can tell that Bisping is already getting under Rockhold’s skin. The current champ even walked-out on their conference call on UFC Tonight when the Brit wouldn’t stop trash talking. If Rockhold gets too emotional and Bisping stays the course, we might have a new middleweight champion come UFC 199.

Veteran’s savvy

At UFC 196, Diaz’s years of fighting top competition paid off against McGregor, who had fought only two top-five-ranked fighters prior to their match-up. Both Bisping and Rockhold have a ton of experience in big fights, and but Bisping has lost and learned from these big fights on countless occasion. Bisping has been fighting in the UFC longer than Rockhold has been fighting as a pro, so you’d think he’d know by now how not to let a big fight slip away.

Less to lose 

What Bisping told Ariel Helwani on The MMA hour is true: The pressure is on Rockhold. He’s the young champ, he’s the guy with a win already over Bisping, and he’s the one who’s had a full camp. Bisping, by contrast, is expected to lose. And that freedom from pressure and expectations can be liberating for a fighter, and it could help “The Count” fight his way to UFC gold.

The similarities between Diaz and Bisping can leave fans of “The Count” rather optimistic, but lets emphasize that there are plenty of differences between the two.

In Nate’s short-notice fight against McGregor, he was the more well-rounded fighter; at UFC 199, Rockhold will have more weapons. Diaz also had the size and reach advantage; Bisping will enjoy none of that.

However, if you considering the blueprint Diaz has laid out on how to beat a finisher on short notice, Bisping seems poised to fulfill his self-proclaimed “destiny” of becoming the new UFC middleweight champion.

Photo via Getty Images

Gab Pangalangan

Gab Pangalangan is a former collegiate national Judo champ and the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of DojoDrifter.com. You can find his other works in the Philippines' leading magazines and websites.
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