TORRENCE, CA – FEBRUARY 24: UFC featherweight champion Conor McGregor laughs during a news conference with lightweight contender Nate Diaz at UFC Gym February 24, 2016, in Torrance, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

He makes gang signs with one hand and animal balloons with the other.” – Conor McGregor, commenting on the complex nature of Nate Diaz.

F–k you, and f–k your bitch ass belt.” – Nate Diaz

All the F-bombs have been launched. The verbal jabs turn into real ones Saturday night, when UFC featherweight champion Conor McGregor takes on Nate Diaz in the main event of UFC 196. Here’s what to look for on Saturday night.

The Other Guy: Nate Diaz

UFC fighter Nate Diaz
You’ve certainly heard all about Conor McGregor, aka “Notorious,” aka “Mystic Mac.” But who is Nate Diaz? Besides being a black belt in trash-talking, Nate Diaz is a Gracie Jiu Jitsu black belt, and he was the “The Ultimate Fighter” season five winner. He’s been awarded 12 post-fight bonuses by the UFC: One for “Knockout of the Night,” five for “Submission of the Night,” and six for “Fight of the Night.”

Diaz is a joy to watch as he goes about his business. In his fight against Michael Johnson, Diaz would point at Johnson and smile after landing a punch, letting him know that he “got him.” He has wrapped an opponent up in a triangle choke while simultaneously flipping double birds to the cameras. He really likes to use F-bombs, and his post-fight interviews are can’t-miss, whether in victory or defeat. He’ll give the finger to the camera, his opponent, the ref and your mother if she doesn’t come correct. He doesn’t have children yet, but when he does…

But Diaz is much more than antics. He is an outstanding boxer with a non-stop motor. He always comes to fight in tremendous shape. His cardio is second-to-none, and he has never been in a boring fight. He owns the UFC record for significant strikes landed in a fight with 238. You will be entertained Saturday night.

Mystic Mac Says…

“Mystic Mac” was the nickname Conor McGregor gave himself due to his uncanny knack for accurately predicting when and how he will finish his opponents. In 2008, McGregor predicted he would be a UFC champion. Check. He said he would knock out Diego Brandao in the first round. He did. He said he would knock out Chad Mendes in the second round. He did. He said he would finish Jose Aldo quickly. He did. So how about Nate Diaz? “Mystic Mac” made his prediction for the Diaz fight at the UFC pre-fight press conference. “He will be KO’d inside the first round,” McGregor said. “He’ll be too slow in there. His speed will stifle him. His soft body and his lack of preparation, he will not be able to handle the ferocity.”

Good Guy Conor

On his way to the gym to train, McGregor noticed an apartment balcony that featured both the Irish flag and a cardboard cutout of himself. Being a man of the people, McGregor decided to drop by and pay the fan a visit.

Nate Diaz Wants to Slap UFC Announcer

Diaz wants to wreck Conor McGregor at UFC 196, but he also has an open hand for UFC announcer Jon Anik, who does blow-by-blow commentary on the “B” team for Fox Sports. Anik said he will get a “209” tattoo if Diaz wins, the area code made famous by the Diaz brothers, who are always representing Stockton, California. Diaz didn’t like that, and he took to Twitter to tell Anik what’s coming.

Cracking the Conor Code

Nate Diaz has cracked the Conor code. Listen as he explains how he will beat the UFC featherweight champion.

How Nate Diaz will beat Conor McGregor. #Repost @abc10sean #ConnorMcGregor #NateDiaz #McGregorDiaz #Notorious #Conor #McGregor #UFC #UFCPPV #MMA #MMAJunkie #Jujitsu #MuayThai #Judo #Karate #GroundAndPound #BJJ #ArmBar #Boxing #FightGame #Fight #Fighting #KnockOut #FightFans #SweetScience #KoArtist #KoArtistSports A video posted by UFC Boxing GGG Canelo McGregor (@koartistsports) on Feb 28, 2016 at 3:03am PST

I Wanna Be Your Sledgehammer

While big personalities front the main event, there are plenty of other noteworthy storylines across the card, and plenty of fighters that make the card a must-see. One of those fighters is Ilir Latifi. Known as “The Sledgehammer,” Latifi has a hard-hitting, punishing style that makes his opponents crumble. He’s needed all of 84 seconds to finish his last two fights, both vicious knockouts. He’s also pulled off a “Ninja Choke,” which is a rare catch in an MMA fight. The sledgehammer looks like “The Mountain” from Game of Thrones, except he might be stronger and is surely the better fighter. Look for him to obliterate Gian Villante Saturday night.

Wanna bet?

Before the Ronda Rousey vs. Holly Holm title fight, a sports handicapper known as “Vegas Dave” received publicity for placing a $20,000 bet on Holm, who at the time was a 12-to-1 underdog. He banked $240k from that gutsy move. He also made news by placing future bets on the Kansas City Royals to win the World Series, winning approximately $2.5 million on those wagers. He’s back at it for UFC 196, this time throwing down $77k on title challenger Miesha Tate. Tate is currently the underdog at +250, so a win would earn just a bit less than $200k. I can’t say I’m with him on this one. I don’t see Tate surviving five rounds against the champ.

Holly Holm Gets Her Dance On

In between flattening opponents in the cage, Holm might want to take a run at “Dancing With the Stars.” At the UFC 196 open workout, Holly invited a young fan to join her in showing off some dance moves.

There Will Be Blood

Diego Sanchez will fight Jim Miller Saturday night, and if history teaches us anything, it’s that Diego Sanchez will bleed. A lot. He’s one of the true characters of the sport, and he has the best “Mean Mug” in the UFC. He also has the best walkout in the UFC, so much so that his trademark “Yes!” call was ripped off by WWE superstar Daniel Bryan. Diego did it first, and with more passion.

Quick Picks

Fight of the Night: Holm vs. Tate. Miesha Tate has an iron will. She refused to tap to a Ronda Rousey armbar, causing a rather grotesque subluxation of her elbow. She will bleed, bruise and battle, until Holm finishes her in the latter rounds.

Submission of the Night: Jason Saggo hasn’t fought since 2014, so it will be a nice comeback story when he chokes out Justin Salas in the first round.

Knockout of the Night: Tough call here, as I think Ilir “The Sledgehammer” Latifi will knock Gian Villante stiff on the canvas, but we have to go with Conor McGregor knocking out Nate Diaz.

The Best of the Rest

Five other fighters you’ll want to watch at UFC 196:

  • Amanda “The Lioness” Nunes. Nunes is all about the kill, hence the nickname “The Lioness.” She’s up against an experienced kickboxer in Valentina Shevchenko, but don’t blink during the first 90 seconds of their fight. Nunes likes to strike quickly with ferocity, and isn’t a fan of having judges decide the winner. She has 11 wins, and all of them are finishes. Her last six wins have all come in the first round. Enjoy!
  • Vitor Miranda. Miranda has insane power and is coming off two highlight-reel knockouts in his last two fights. Known as “Lex Luthor,” Miranda has knocked out nine opponents in his 11 wins.
  • Brandon Thatch. The hype surrounding Thatch was a little too much, too soon, but he remains a legit prospect in the UFC welterweight division. Thatch is another fighter that has no need for judges, with all 11 of his wins coming within the distance. A win at UFC 196 might vault him into the top-15 in the welterweight rankings.
  • Jim Miller. Miller, aka “Bill the Butcher,” is the spitting image of Daniel Day Lewis’ character in “Gangs of New York.” He is an immensely talented ground fighter and a fan favorite. He will bloody the face of Diego Sanchez, and possibly be the first fighter to ever submit Sanchez in the UFC.
  • Tom Lawlor. Lawlor is also a fan favorite, known for his pre-fight gimmick of dressing in character for his weigh-ins and fight walkouts. The deal with Reebok has stifled some of his creativity, but if Lawlor can’t put on a show before he enters the cage, he most certainly will inside of it.

About Matt Lo Cascio

Matt Lo Cascio has been covering MMA since 2009, mostly in the midwest for He also writes UFC previews for Draft Kings, and is the play-by-play announcer for the XFO, seen on UFC Fight Pass.