UFC 196 did not disappoint. Two title holders and heavy favourites were shockingly dethroned in one of the most memorable nights in recent memory.
In the main event of the evening Nate Diaz amazed the world and submitted Conor McGregor to hand the Irishman his first loss in the UFC.
The thousands of fans adorned in green present at the MGM along with the millions watching around the world were left stunned after Diaz made the “Notorious” tap in submission late in the second round.
The fight was an all out slugfest with McGregor busting his opponent open in the first. He caught Diaz time and time again with shots similar to those that have dropped his previous opponents. But the ultra durable American weathered the storm and never took a backward step.
In the second round Diaz stumbled McGregor with a heavy left to the jaw. As soon as he saw blood the pressure was on. As we have seen so many times before Diaz attacked with an overwhelming array of precise combinations which eventually forced McGregor to go for the takedown.
By this point the featherweight champion had essentially chosen to lose by submission rather than KO. Diaz effortlessly manoeuvred his body to lock in a rear naked choke and record his 12th career submission victory.
McGregor will head back down in weight class now and prepare for UFC 200 where he will either defend his featherweight title or fight Rafael Dos Anjos for the lightweight strap.
As for Diaz, who knows where he goes from here? Wherever he wants I suppose.
In the co-main event Miesha Tate fought the fight of her life to put Holly Holm to sleep and become the women’s bantamweight champion.
With just two minutes to go and in desperate need of a finish Tate hauled Holm to the ground and sunk in a rear naked choke to put the champ to sleep. It was the perfect finish to a perfect fight for “Cupcake” who may have to defend her belt for the first time versus Ronda Rousey.
Tate came close to ending the fight in the second round. Early on she timed a takedown to perfection and spent the duration of the round dominating Holm. She applied a choke with little time on the clock but Holm somehow managed to fight it off and survive to the bell.
Rounds three, four and the beginning of five were all about the “Preacher’s Daughter”. The Albuquerque native rejected every takedown attempt and found her range in the striking department. It looked like she had worked her challenger out and was cruising towards her first title defence.
But then with two minutes to go, after waiting patiently, Tate pounced and scragged Holm, who fought tooth and nail to get back to her feet, to the mat. She got her back, locked the choke in and finished the fight.
The victory leaves the women’s bantamweight division in a wonderful state of chaos. Either Holm will get the immediate rematch, potentially at UFC 200, or Tate will have to face Rousey for the third time, having lost two title fights to her previously.
Elsewhere on the main card Ilir Latifi won all three rounds to defeat Gian Villante by unanimous decision in the light-heavyweight division.
The “Sledgehammer” combined his high level wrestling with serious punching power to outclass Villante who did little to bother the Swede. After a slow start Latifi figured his opponent out and began to reveal a gap in class between the fighters. He rag dolled Villante to the ground twice in the second round and despite giving up five inches in height was clearly the stronger of the two men. Villante had support from former middleweight champion, Chris Weidman, but his encouragement from the side failed to rally the former Strikeforce man. Latifi sensed the moment to finish the fight and opted to stand rather than wrestle his opponent. He repeatedly caught his opponent with heavy left hands, only Villante’s strong jaw saw him through to the end of the fight.
The victory should propel Latifi back in the top 15 while Villante will head back to the East coast with a lot of questions to answer.
Also in the light-heavyweight division Corey Anderson outpointed Tom Lawlor to win by decision.
The 26-year-old barely made it out of the first minute after he got wobbled by Lawlor who came out fast and pinned his opponent against the cage. Anderson took some time to recover from the damage he suffered early on but began to take control towards the end of the second round. The Ultimate Fighter season 19 winner took the fight to the ground for the first time in the final round and his control from the top ensured that the round was his.
While the bout did little to get the fans in attendance on their feet it stretched Anderson’s winning run to three and gives him a noteworthy victory over a tough veteran. He will look to face a ranked opponent next time round and break in to the top ten.
To kick off the main card Amanda Nunes earned a hard fought decision victory over Valentina Shevchenko.
The Brazilian clearly won the opening two rounds and came close to ending the bout in the second. Nunes was the more rounded fighter and was particularly distinguished in the grappling game. She tripped her opponent to the canvas a number of times and bloodied the Russian with vicious ground and pound.
Shevchenko, the number 10 ranked women’s bantamweight, recovered incredibly well and dominated Nunes in the third round. She took advantage of her tiring opponent and rejected each and every attempt to be taken down. It was on the feet that the Muay Thai specialist showed her true class and delivered her best moments of the fight.
In the end it was too little too late and Nunes won by unanimous decision. The number four ranked fighter took her opportunity post-fight to campaign for a title shot. Considering what happened later in the night it is certain she won’t get what she wished for.