Despite all the weather delays getting out of San Francisco, I made it UFC 196 last week at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. This turned out to be one of the most talked-about MMA events in mainstream sports media. The main card was actually pretty boring, with three straight decisions to start off the card on pay-per-view. Fortunately, the top two fights saved the card, each ending in dramatic finishes.
In co-event, Holly Holm was on her way to retaining the UFC women's bantamweight belt against Miesha Tate. Winning going into the fifth round on all scorecards, Holm needed to just not get dominated to preserve a draw (by the way, props to the judges for scoring the second round 10-8 because Tate dominated Holm on the ground). Out of desperation, Tate lunged at Holm and eventually took her back with one hook against the cage; she quickly put in the rear-naked choke. Holm, who didn't seem to know how to defend the choke standing, tried to flip Tate over her head. The all-or-nothing move did not pay off and Holm was choked unconscious for a technical submission.
Moving on to the main event, UFC Featherweight Champion Conor McGregor moved up to welterweight to take on Nate Diaz. McGregor spent the first round trying to land left-handed bombs and spinning kicks on Diaz. While some did land, the Notorious One used a lot of energy to try and finish Diaz. In the second round, Mystic Mac continued the same strategy, but slowed down considerably. Diaz, known for having a great chin, began finding his rhythm, pushing McGregor with his boxing. McGregor went for a desperation takedown, but was quickly reversed by the bigger and fresher Diaz. Nate then showed why he's a 1-stripe black belt in jiu-jitsu, transitioned from side control, to mount, to the back and finishing via rear-naked choke.
With the two big upsets, a lot more interest came out of this event with ESPN providing extended coverage and The Dan Patrick Show even having a segment. A big theme is what does the UFC do next. Tate's victory puts a wrench into the plan for women's MMA's biggest star, Ronda Rousey. Rousey-Holm 2 was likely to headline a pay-per-view event later this year. Tate-Rousey 3 will likely be coming up. McGregor loses possible super fights against Robbie Lawler and Georges St. Pierre. He will probably go back to defend his featherweight title against Frankie Edgar. Nate Diaz (assuming his doesn't take his winnings and steps away from the MMA) likely positions himself for a big fight against Lawler for UFC Lightweight Champion Rafael dos Anjos. There are a lot of moving parts leading up to UFC 200.