MMA Review: #538: UFC 196: McGregor vs. Diaz
-This was clearly 2016’s biggest show so far, naturally as it involved Conor McGregor. Main events were both fights I actually didn’t expect to see this year – for two totally different reasons – but we’ll get into that later. It was a bit of a weaker card overall for a recent PPV but when you’ve got MCGREGOR VS. DIAZ of all things on top then it doesn’t matter that much!
UFC 196: McGregor vs. Diaz
Las Vegas, Nevada
-Your hosts are Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan.
-Alright, let’s get a handful of gripes out of the way first. The DMX PPV intro was pretty cool but I still prefer the old-school Face The Pain videos that showcase the whole card. The last thing I want is a boxing-type move to one or two-fight PPV cards and so I think it’s important to showcase the undercard fighters on the intro too. Why not just do both? I’m also sick of PPV cards being in Las Vegas at this point too. Can we please move around the states some more like they did a couple of years ago? Oh, and Mike Goldberg’s shilling of Hardcore Henry is insufferable literally like five minutes into the broadcast.
Interesting opener here between two top-ten contenders at WBW. Nunes had been calling for a title shot after her win over Sara McMann in the summer and honestly she might’ve gotten it had Ronda Rousey beaten Holly Holm as like a ‘contender of the month’ type deal for Ronda, but well, shit happens. Shevchenko meanwhile – Goldie tells us she’s beaten Joanna Jedrzejczyk in kickboxing, which is just odd more than impressive given the weight difference – had made her debut in December on late notice, taking out former StrikeForce champ Sarah Kaufman in what WAS a very impressive win. Still, I was taking Nunes here feeling she was too experienced and probably a bit too aggressive for Shevchenko to handle.
Round One and both girls come out pretty tentatively which is surprising for Amanda Nunes. Big left hook misses for the Lioness. Head kick is blocked by Shevchenko who hasn’t thrown anything really yet. Both women continue to come up short on their strikes and we’re two minutes in now with little action. Another head kick is blocked by Shevchenko. Couple of low kicks glance for Nunes. Brief exchange sees Nunes land a couple of punches but Shevchenko gets right out of range. Very surprised the crowd haven’t turned on this yet. Wheel kick misses for Nunes. One minute to go and sure enough here come the boos. Can’t really blame the fans as this has been a horrid round. Body kick connects for Nunes and she follows with a clinch and a takedown with just under a minute to go. Shevchenko gets full guard and clings on, but with seconds to go Nunes opens up with a nice sharp elbow and then lands a big flurry before Shevchenko gets a reversal. Trip from Nunes ends the round with her on top. Nunes basically stole the round with that late ground work.
Round Two and Shevchenko eats a body kick to begin. Another body kick is caught by Shevchenko who kicks Nunes’s leg from under her….and then throws a SOCCER KICK that narrowly misses, but allows Nunes to grab the leg and hit a takedown. That could well have been a DQ if it’d landed. Nunes ends up in the guard, but she quickly passes into half-guard and begins to work away with short punches and elbows. Looks like Shevchenko might be cut. She keeps reaching for a possible sweep but she’s taking a lot of elbows here. Nunes keeps trying to kneel on the right arm to keep it from blocking too. She passes into side mount, but that allows Shevchenko to scramble to her feet. It’s only momentary though as Nunes trips her back to half-guard and continues to pound her. Nunes has a nasty top game, but then we knew that! Into side mount now with a minute to go and she looks to take the back from there, slapping a body triangle on for good measure. She goes for the choke, but Shevchenko holds on bravely despite having blood running down into her eyes. She manages to turn into Nunes’s guard with seconds to go, and that’s the round. 10-8 round for Nunes I’d say.
Round Three and Nunes shoots, but this time Shevchenko blocks it with a hard knee to the body and follows with an elbow to the temple. Trip attempt from Nunes is reversed and now Shevchenko’s got top position from side mount. Nunes keeps trying to get back to half-guard but Valentina avoids that and begins to return the favour from the last round with some short elbows of her own. She goes into a mounted crucifix for a second and lands some shots before going for a possible Americana on the far arm, but she gives it up quickly. Nunes manages to kick her away and stands, but she looks tired. Big head kick misses for the Brazilian and Shevchenko catches her leaning in by grabbing the plum to deliver a pair of hard knees. Good left-right combo from Shevchenko. Spinning backfist misses for her but she grabs another front headlock to deliver some more shots, and Nunes has to drop one hand down to prevent any knees. They break and an overhand right glances for Shevchenko. Another combo lands for the Bullet and Nunes looks gassed to me. Left hand into another knee from Shevchenko as she again catches Nunes leaning forward. Good knee to the body from Shevchenko. One minute to go and Nunes is on the retreat. Superman punch lands for Shevchenko. Round ends with some more strikes from Shevchenko before she grabs a headlock and slams Nunes to the ground. Clear-cut 10-9 for Shevchenko, but I’d call it 29-27 for Nunes overall.
Judges call it 29-28, 29-27 and 29-27 for Amanda Nunes. Solid win for the Lioness but she almost threw it away in the third round there thanks to a weak gas tank, and that would’ve been very similar to the Cat Zingano fight where she came out on fire and then really gassed in the second and Cat ended up taking over and smashing her. For that reason alone I don’t see her having any success if she does find herself in a five-round title fight, just because I can’t see her stopping someone like Miesha Tate or Ronda Rousey early on. I doubt she gets that far though due to the title picture right now as I think she’d lose to someone like Julianna Pena or Jessica Eye for instance. Shevchenko just started too slowly and that basically cost her, but she’ll bounce back as she’s still largely a prospect in the division. Fight was fine outside of the first round which stunk, but the second and third were pretty good.
These two were looking to get themselves into the top ten at LHW, a weird place right now that outside of the top four (Jones, Cormier, Gustafsson, Johnson) seems to be filled with guys who’ve either been around for ages and are arguably on the way down somewhat (Bader, Teixeira), blatantly past their prime (Evans, Shogun, Nogueira) or a bit unproven at the very top (Manuwa, OSP). A win for either man could get them a shot at anyone outside of the top four which would be a winnable fight, basically. My pick was Anderson feeling he’s a better wrestler than Lawlor and he’s taken less abuse over his career.
No bizarre entrance for Lawlor as I guess Reebok’s put an end to that somewhat, but he does walk out to Madonna (Like A Prayer) so maybe that counts?
Fight begins and Lawlor opens with a solid left hand. Right to the body lands for Anderson as does an inside leg kick. Big swings from Lawlor and he gets inside and tags Anderson with punches. Anderson is in trouble as he’s wobbling all over the place and Lawlor continues to tag him! Quick hands from Tom Lawlor. He keeps landing on Corey but the TUF winner seems to manage to recover. He definitely got hurt there and he’s coming up short on his own punches. Takedown attempt is stuffed by Lawlor. Lawlor continues to stalk forward but Anderson lands with a nice inside leg kick. Counter right glances for Anderson. Two minutes to go in the round and Corey lands with a nice right hook. Lawlor keeps walking him down though and he lands with a straight left and another right hand. Right hook wobbles Anderson a little but he seems okay. Strong right hook answers for Anderson. Looping left connects for Lawlor. Another inside leg kick from Anderson. Exchange continues with both men coming up short, and the round ends with another inside leg kick from Anderson. Clearly 10-9 Lawlor based on like the first ninety seconds.
Into the 2nd and Lawlor hits a surprising single leg, but Anderson pops up right away. Hard combo from Lawlor seems to stumble Anderson for a second but he recovers quickly. Strong right hands land for both men before Lawlor tags Corey with a left straight. Right hand counter lands for Anderson as Lawlor continues to back him up. Right from Lawlor and he shrugs off a clinch attempt. Good leg kick answers for Anderson. Looks like Lawlor’s right eye is a little marked up, but he’s still largely getting the better of these exchanges. Hard right hand from Anderson stops him in his tracks a bit though. Two minutes to go in the round and Anderson seems to be looking slightly more confident. Lawlor immediately lands on him with a combo to switch the momentum back though. Crowd chant for “Filthy Tom” which is pretty cool. Dude always has been a cult favourite. Nice leg kick from Corey. Beautiful short left from Lawlor snaps Anderson’s head back in a brief exchange. Counter knee lands for Filthy Tom too as Anderson leans for a possible takedown. Big combo lands again for Lawlor but this time Anderson fires back and it forces Lawlor to go for a takedown. Anderson stuffs it and they clinch, with Corey separating with a knee on the buzzer. Closer round but I’d go 10-9 Lawlor again leaving Anderson needing a finish.
Final round and both men miss some punches before Anderson lands the inside leg kick again. Good right hand from Lawlor connects cleanly. Anderson takes it and fires back with one of his own though that doesn’t land quite as well. Beautiful double leg from Anderson and he lands in side mount. Couple of knees to the body land for the TUF 19 winner and he’s controlling Lawlor well from the top. Lawlor tries to escape but only makes it to half-guard. Anderson begins to work with some decent ground-and-pound from the half-guard, controlling Lawlor and landing some short elbows. Two minutes to go and it doesn’t look like Lawlor’s got much answer for this. Action slows down though as Anderson works with some incredibly short hammer fists, and so Big John McCarthy calls a stand-up with a minute to go. Nice inside leg kick from Corey. Right hand follows. Lawlor must be a bit tired as he’s not throwing much at all here. Round ends with Anderson getting in the better punches. I’d call it 10-9 Anderson for a 29-28 Lawlor win myself.
Judges have it 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28 for COREY ANDERSON. Crowd are NOT happy with that one and with good reason. Lawlor got fucking ROBBED there, sorry. I mean the second round was maybe close so you could perhaps argue 29-28 for Anderson although I’d disagree, but 30-27 is insane given the guy was on roller skates in the first round! Fight was solid enough but man, what a shitty decision and I’m surprised it hasn’t gotten more criticism online. Don’t see either guy bothering anyone in the top ten if I’m honest either but stranger things have happened and as I said earlier it’s a very strange division these days.
Speaking of that strange division these guys were another pair looking to possibly break into the top ten, with Latifi coming off a pair of nasty KO wins and Villante coming off his own knockout win over Anthony Perosh. Despite Villante’s clear athletic gifts and Latifi’s shorter build putting him at a mad reach disadvantage, I couldn’t trust the New Yorker’s chin and picked THE SLEDGEHAMMER to pull out another knockout.
Round One and Villante comes out throwing some hard kicks that don’t land cleanly as Latifi gets out of the way. Takedown attempt from Latifi off a caught low kick and he drives Gian into the fence and looks to get him down. Villante defends initially but takes a short right hand in the process. They break off and Villante lands with a low kick. Villante’s throwing a ton of kicks so far. Leg kick is caught though and Latifi lands with a wild overhand left and then goes for the takedown again. Good right hand to the body from Latifi but he still can’t get Villante off his feet and they break off. Two minutes to go in the round and Latifi glances on a winging left hook. Another clinch follows and Latifi looks for the takedown again, but he still can’t finish it. Dull round thus far. Wild combo glances for Latifi and sets up another attempted takedown, but again he can’t get him down. Hard boy kick lands for Villante. Round peters out standing. Probably 10-9 Latifi by a hair, literally for that left hand, bad round though.
Round Two and the crowd are clearly restless now. They trade leg kicks to open before a short left hand lands for Latifi. Combo follows for the Swede but doesn’t land cleanly. Head kick is blocked by Latifi and he catches a low kick and grabs a rear waistlock, and that allows him to hit a BEAUTIFUL German suplex. Villante manages to scramble to his feet shortly after though. Right hand from Villante but Latifi counters with a body shot. Another low kick lands for Villante but Latifi forces him into the fence again and looks for a double leg. Good job of stuffing it by Villante again and they separate. Overhand right glances for Villante. Neither guy is showing that much urgency here. Good inside leg kick from Villante. Spin kick glances for Latifi and almost catches Villante low. Another one misses for the Swede. One minute to go and an uppercut glances for Latifi. Crowd begin to boo with the lack of action. Takedown attempt again from Latifi but Villante again stuffs it. Finally though he keeps driving and hits a BIG SLAM, taking the back as they hit the ground and landing a hammer fist. Villante reverses back up and that’s the round. 10-9 Latifi for the two takedowns.
Round Three and Latifi opens with some glancing blows but little else happens in the first minute really. Good right to the body from Latifi and he drives in for another takedown. He almost manages to get Villante down but the New Yorker does a good job of defending again and still remains standing. Glancing overhand left from Latifi. These guys really ought to be trying to pick it up now with half of the round left. Wheel kick of all things misses for Latifi. Two minutes to go and a big overhand right cracks Villante but he takes it really well. Low single leg is stuffed by Villante. Nice short left hook connects hard for Latifi and Villante looks stunned but manages to show a good poker face, and Latifi doesn’t follow up. Spin kick again misses for the Swede. Body kick lands for Villante. Less than a minute to go now and Latifi glances on a left hook. Wild left from Latifi sets up a takedown and this time he hits a slam. Villante ends up seated against the fence and then gives up his neck to get back up, and somehow he manages to get a rear waistlock and trips Latifi down to end the round. 10-9 Latifi and I’d call it his fight, wasn’t really inspiring though.
All three judges have it 30-27 for Ilir Latifi. This was a really bad fight though as neither man seemed to really go for it or push the fight and while I wouldn’t normally decry that as I mean, why should I be able to tell a fighter to take a stupid risk, this was a massive opportunity for one of them being on a PPV card that’s probably going to hit like a minimum of 800k buys and they pretty much missed that opportunity. Ah well.
As I mentioned in the introduction this wasn’t a fight I expected to see, as after Holm dethroned Ronda Rousey all the money seemed to be in a rematch between the two, while Tate was on the shelf and looked like she was probably on the outs with Zuffa too after moaning a lot about not getting the shot at Ronda that Holm got. In the end though fate intervened as I guess Holm was desperate to fight someone when it was announced that Ronda would be out a little longer than everyone expected, and despite Tate’s anti-Zuffa comments she was still the clear-cut #1 contender and the most marketable opponent too. As far as a pick, while MMA math suggested an easy win for Holm, that shit never really works and I thought Tate’s more patient style might be trickier for Holm than Ronda’s aggression was. Still, I didn’t expect Tate to be able to get her down and so I figured we’d probably see something similar to Holm’s fights with Raquel Pennington and Marion Reneau – a dull-ish decision in favour of the champ.
Crowd are treating this as a SERIOUSLY BIG FIGHT. They seem to be more behind Holm than Tate although neither girl is getting any boos.
First round begins and Miesha stays on the outside as Holm takes the center of the cage. Holm throws out a couple of kicks early on but they look like they’re attempts to gauge the distance more than anything. Side kick to the body glances for Holm but a low one is caught by Tate. Holm manages to shrug off a possible takedown though and separates. Not much action so far to be honest. Crowd begin a big chant for Holly. Nice short right hand lands for Holm and she follows with a shove that has Tate off balance for a second. Left hand follows for the champion. Side kick glances for Holm but neither woman has really landed much significant thus far. Quick combo glances for Holm. Miesha’s looking a bit unsure what to do here. Couple more shots land for Holm and Miesha is beginning to look slightly marked up. One minute to go and a counter left hook glances for the challenger but has no effect. Head kick is narrowly blocked by Tate. Seconds to go and Holm lands another side kick to the body. Round ends just after. Not much action really but I’d go 10-9 Holm for landing the majority of the strikes.
Second round and Miesha comes out more aggressively, swinging and looking to close the distance. Takedown attempt does indeed come and she manages to hit a trip and land on top! She immediately moves to side mount and the crowd are going bananas. Mount attempt follows but Holm catches her in half-guard, only to eat a heavy elbow from the challenger. Few more shots get through for Miesha and she’s controlling Holm impressively from the half-guard. Holm doesn’t look comfortable from her back at all. Elbows to the body land for Tate and she stops Holm from moving herself towards the fence. More elbows land for Miesha and it looks like she’s going for a possible kimura on the right arm. She gives that up to deliver some nasty shots from the top, and with just under two minutes to go Miesha takes the back with both hooks off a scramble attempt. Looks like the choke might be sunk, but Holm defends well. Miesha tries to switch off to a face crank ala Demian Maia, but Holm keeps on defending and manages to survive it. Holm stands for a second and then falls back, but again she manages to peel the arm off to defend the choke. Seconds to go now and it looks like the champ’s going to get out of the round. Miesha keeps working for the choke, but she can’t finish it off before the round ends. 10-8 round for Tate for sure. Crowd are DEAFENING.
Third round and Miesha looks confident coming out of her corner. Jab connects for Holm though and she’s taking the center of the cage again. Both girls glance on some kicks with Holm just missing on a big head kick. Side kick to the body from Holm and she follows with a left hook. Crowd now seem behind the challenger but right as they start a “Miesha” chant she gets cracked by a big one-two that snaps her head back. Takedown attempt from Tate but Holly stuffs it well this time and exits with an uppercut. Superkick narrowly misses for Holm. Head kick is blocked by Miesha too. Hook kick also misses. Right hand from the champ connects decently. Nice combo from Holm. Front kick to the body follows. One minute to go and Holm connects on the oblique kick. Flurry from Tate but Holm counters and lands the sharper shots before exiting with a side kick. Another takedown attempt is stuffed by Holm. Round ends with another combo from the champ. 10-9 Holm, impressive way to come back from that previous round.
Fourth round and Holm looks like the fresher fighter to me. She comes out firing jabs as Miesha looks like she wants a way to set up the takedown. Left hook glances for Tate. Left hand into another side kick to the body land for Holm. Another kick is caught and Miesha goes for a takedown, but Holly stuffs it well and forces her back into the fence. They exchange some knees before Holm shrugs her off. Left hand lands for Holm. Lot of movement from Miesha but she’s still getting the worse end of the striking really although she hasn’t been stunned. Left hand connects again for Holm. Front kick misses for Holly but she avoids a possible takedown attempt. Counter right lands for the champion. Another takedown follows for Tate but she can’t get Holm down as she sprawls back well. Bunch of hammer fists land to the side of the head for Holm and she exits with a right. Just over a minute to go in the round and Miesha needs to put some offense together badly. Combo lands for Holm and she forces Miesha to miss big too. Another combination lands cleanly for the champ. Seconds to go now and a kick lands to the body for the champ. That’s the round. 10-9 Holm and I’d call it 38-37 going into the fifth.
Fifth and final round and Miesha pushes forward and lands with a solid left hand. Front kick to the chest lands for Holm. Oblique kick follows and a counter left connects too as Miesha lands with a body kick of her own. Nice combo from Holly ends with a side kick to the body. Takedown attempt from Tate but Holm stuffs it masterfully. Left hand lands for Holm. Side kick to the chest follows that. Takedown attempt again from Miesha and she gets deep on a bodylock, but Holm again shows excellent defense and breaks free with a right hook. Left hand follows. Body kick lands for Miesha. Combo glances for Holm. A wild charge from Miesha comes off badly as she takes another side kick. Two minutes to go and a left lands for Holm, but Tate gets inside and trips her down with a rear waistlock! Both hooks are in for Miesha briefly but Holm scrambles and looks to get to her feet. Tate hops onto the back proper though and it looks like she’s got the choke sunk! Holm takes a HUGE RISK by front rolling….but Tate KEEPS THE CHOKE LOCKED AND HOLM PASSES OUT!~! Crowd go INSANE as Tate celebrates. Unbelievable.
First off then, probably the best comeback in a UFC title fight since Anderson Silva against Chael Sonnen back in 2010. I’d call that one better as Miesha at least had a 10-8 round in her favour and could’ve gotten a draw if she’d not pulled the finish out, but she was definitely behind and was losing the fifth too. Just goes to show the heart and desire of Miesha to pull through and that’s what you need to become a champion. The fight was odd in a way too as while – outside of the second round and the finish – Miesha looked outgunned standing, Holm was never able to really open up on her like she did with Ronda, as Miesha was much more conservative while Ronda was too aggressive and – in hindsight – looked woefully unprepared for that fight. In terms of people writing Holm off overall or thinking that she was just the perfect match for Rousey and really not that good, I don’t think that’s fair, just because we’ve seen Tate look fantastic grappling against the likes of Sara McMann and Cat Zingano before so I don’t think there’s any shame in being choked out by her. As for the bigger picture? I think a motivated Ronda runs through Miesha again to get the title back, but who knows if she’ll even be back at this point? If she doesn’t return then I actually think we could see someone else entirely – maybe Zingano – end up with the title eventually as I can’t see Tate holding onto it for too long and Holm might be too limited overall against more rounded opponents. We shall see. Fight was one of the more memorable title fights in recent memory even if it wasn’t fireworks throughout.
So yeah, when Conor started talking trash on the 155lbs division and calling out the winner of Dos Anjos vs. Cerrone – this was back before he’d beaten Jose Aldo of course – I didn’t actually think we’d see the fight just because I figured the Irishman would stay at 145lbs to defend against the likes of Frankie Edgar. After the Aldo fight though the talk of Conor vs. RDA got louder and sure enough, the first champion vs. champion fight since GSP vs. BJ Penn was signed for this show. Then things got stranger when RDA broke his foot. Rather than pull Conor as I was expecting, to save him for UFC 200 and either the RDA match or something else, it was suddenly announced that he’d be fighting Nate Diaz. At 170lbs nonetheless. Now I mean, this was a big fucking turnaround in how the UFC does things. Literally if they’d put in any other guy at 155lbs or 170lbs then the questions would’ve been all about why they’d risk Conor in a fight like that that didn’t mean all that much and how he’d cope with the weight and stuff, but you know what? With Diaz it just somehow made all the sense in the world. I was taking Conor to win just because I couldn’t pick against him based on what he’d done so far and really, Diaz had never quite reached the very top of the mountain, but this was the sort of fight you pay money to watch, point blank.
Round One and Conor comes out switching stances before winging a big left hand that misses. Left hook lands for Conor but not cleanly. Few kicks by Conor and he lands with the left again. Wheel kick misses and Diaz clinches and forces him into the fence. Conor muscles him off but eats a jab. Left over the top connects for Conor. Right hand glances for Diaz as Conor begins to work on getting inside the reach. Left hand lands again for McGregor. He drops his hands for some taunting and then wings the overhand left and an uppercut, but Diaz avoids and lands with a jab. Head kick is blocked by Diaz. Jab to the body from Nate and he keeps out of Conor’s range and connects with a right hook. Good leg kick from Conor but he takes another couple of jabs. Wheel kick misses for Conor but he lands with a hard uppercut with the right. Combo glances for Diaz but Conor shows some sick head movement to avoid some more punches and lands with the uppercut again. Big left hand from McGregor. He’s really swinging haymakers here. Diaz’s right eye looks all sorts of busted up. Big left to the body from Conor. Left lands cleanly again but Diaz fires back with some jabs. Big left again from Conor and he follows with another one. Diaz is doing well to take so many of these big shots. Single leg from Diaz and he’s got Conor down, but in the scramble Conor manages to get on top. Diaz goes to full guard but McGregor stacks him up to drop a couple of punches. Round ends with Diaz spinning into an inverted guard. 10-9 McGregor for the damage done and the bigger punches landed, but it wasn’t one-sided at all.
Round Two and Conor comes out hard with a low kick and a missed spin kick. Diaz keeps working the jab, but Conor lands with the overhand left again and another left from close range. Combo follows for the Irishman. Good left hand from Diaz in an exchange. Spin kick glances for Conor and he follows with another big left. Diaz’s eye is a mess. Clinch from Diaz and he moves Conor into the fence again, but McGregor quickly breaks and lands with a combo and a big left again. Hard right from Diaz and suddenly it looks like Conor’s breathing a little heavily. Big left hand into a left uppercut connect for him though. Another uppercut from Conor but Diaz tells him to bring it on. Combo from Diaz and Conor is definitely looking the more fatigued. One-two by Nate but now Conor taunts him. Couple of jabs get through for Diaz but Conor answers with a knee from the clinch. Nice uppercut lands for Conor. Combo follows but Diaz takes it well and fires back with a big one-two and now Conor is visibly stunned! Diaz senses it and wades in with combinations and Conor is wobbled but keeps swinging back! Suddenly it’s Diaz territory as he taunts Conor and cracks him with more punches before clinching and landing a knee. Big shots connect for Diaz from the clinch and the crowd sound shocked. Conor breaks off and keeps on firing back, but he still looks hurt and Diaz tags him again! Big combo has Conor wobbled and he SHOOTS ON A TAKEDOWN but Diaz immediately goes into a guillotine! Conor does the right thing by hopping into side mount, but Diaz SWEEPS HIM OVER AND TAKES FULL MOUNT! Big punches follow before Conor GIVES HIS BACK AND DIAZ GETS THE CHOKE AND TAPS HIM OUT!~! Insane.
Post-fight Joe Rogan tells Diaz he’s shocked the world, to which Nate says “I’m not surprised, motherfuckers”. Gotta love the guy when he isn’t whining about his pay! Conor for his part is super humble too, saying he felt he won the first but was inefficient with his energy – basically admitting he blew himself up – and that he’ll take the loss like a man and be back again.
Well, what can you say about that? Firstly, the people online writing McGregor off as all mouth and overrated are ridiculous – the fact is that he took out the two best 145lbers in Mendes and Aldo in devastating fashion and is clearly the top guy in that weight class right now. So how can he be overrated? And the people claiming that hubris beat him here are just as bad – he didn’t do anything different in this fight than he did in any of his other UFC fights and he clearly won the first round. The difference was that while everyone at 145lbs crumbled under his punching power, Diaz has fought at the heavier weight before against much bigger guys who probably hit harder than Conor too, and by throwing so many haymakers expecting to be able to finish Diaz, the Irishman basically gassed himself out. And while both men were moving up in weight, Conor was coming up from 145lbs for the first time at the top level while Diaz obviously beat a handful of excellent fighters there back in 2010 – Rory Markham and Marcus Davis were good wins for the time and he arguably beat Dong Hyun Kim too. He’s also super durable, having only ever been finished by a head kick from Josh Thomson, and outside of that he’s barely even been rocked before. Conor also relies heavily on his chin – at 145lbs he’d always been able to take the shots while his opponents couldn’t take his power, but here he was stunned for the first time in his UFC career by Diaz and looked very rattled by it. Throw in the fact that Conor’s used to having a reach advantage and didn’t with Diaz and I mean, Nate was a much trickier opponent than anyone first thought, even on short notice.
So it puts an end to the talk of Conor getting a shot at Robbie Lawler (!) but that was a bad idea in the first place (I also don’t like Diaz vs. Lawler for the record but that’s another story….) and probably puts an end to the RDA fight for the time being as well, but overall I don’t think it should affect him too much – he can still crush the likes of Frankie Edgar at 145lbs in my opinion – assuming he can get back down to that weight of course. As for Diaz, who knows what he does next? Even with this massive win under his belt he’s still an enigma, just a much richer one as it looks like this PPV did upwards of a million buys. And in that case, with a fight as exciting as this, is there any true loser really?
-Show ends with a highlight reel and a plug for Jones vs. Cormier II which should be AWESOME.
Show was clearly all about the two main events going in and it would’ve been a bonus had the opening three matches been great, so even though they really weren’t – Latifi/Villante was awful – it didn’t matter so long as Holm/Tate and Conor/Diaz delivered. Which they did, in spades, so it’s an easy thumbs up for UFC 196 even if it probably won’t be considered one of the best shows of the year by the time everything’s all said and done. But yeah, definitely a must-see show, as per usual with the UFC PPVs recently.
Best Fight: McGregor vs. Diaz
Worst Fight: Latifi vs. Villante
Overall Rating: ***3/4
Until next time,