There are few athletes in professional sports capable of captivating an audience the way UFC superstar Conor McGregor can. The loquacious Irishman headlined UFC 196 against popular veteran Nate Diaz Saturday in a fight that had the masses fired up and Diaz spoiled the party.
As predicted by most, the two men spent most of the first round trading punches with McGregor landing the harder shots but Diaz began firing back.
“Boom! Boom! @NateDiaz209 lands! #UFC196”
“#TheNotorious returns the favor!!! #UFC196”
In the second round, Diaz stung McGregor with a straight left as he has done to so many of his previous opponents. The punch rocked McGregor and Diaz felt the momentum shift. Diaz started landing his patented rapid-fire punches and it eventually led to McGregor shooting for a takedown. Diaz, a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, capitalized on the fight hitting the mat and sliced through McGregor’s guard like a hot knife through butter, eventually locking in a rear-naked choke and forcing a tap.
Stockon’s @NateDiaz209 pulls off the finish!!!!! #UFC196 pic.twitter.com/LEZP6sL45n
Now THATS how you get a crowd on its feet!!!! Wow @NateDiaz209!! #UFC196 pic.twitter.com/cUqSd2B2k8
“Great respect by both @TheNotoriousMMA and @NateDiaz209 at #UFC196”
Diaz submits McGregor!!! MGM is going nuts right now. What a crazy night #UFC196
McGregor, the UFC’s featherweight champion, became the first UFC fighter to make a disclosed $1 million purse for a single fight and has reached a level of stardom that when he fights the world stops and watches. Heck, even Blue Jays star Josh Donaldson gave his thoughts on McGregor and Saturday’s card.
"Humble in victory, humble in defeat #UFC196"
At the post-fight press conference, McGregor said he thinks his next move will be to go back down to featherweight and defend his 145-pound title either against former champion Jose Aldo ot top contender Frankie Edgar.
Here's what else happened on the card...
Tate upsets Holm to become new champ
Miesha Tate did what Ronda Rousey couldn't. The veteran defeated Holly Holm to become the new UFC women's bantamweight champion.
The opening round was spent on the feet with the two women patiently trading strikes and trying to find their range. Tate was able to take Holm down early in the second stanza and control the former world boxing champion on the ground. With less than one minute remaining in the second round, Tate locked in a rear-naked choke but Holm defended well and survived the round.
What a round for @MieshaTate!!!!!! #UFC196 http://snpy.tv/1QWaJm3
Holm refocussed in round three and was able to stay on the outside and land strikes, although nothing too powerful connected. The fourth saw the two women clinch a bit along the cage and after a beautiful sprawl from Holm to defend a takedown she turned up the tempo as they headed into the final round.
Tate tried desperately in the fifth to get a takedown. Eventually she secured one, locked up a rear-naked choke and put Holm to sleep in a dramatic finish.
AndNew UFC bantamweight champion of the world @Mieshatate!!!! #UFC196 pic.twitter.com/h2etyWghgO
That feeling when you realize you're a UFC world champion ... @MieshaTate #UFC196 pic.twitter.com/0Msyk978lY
The reaction @MGMGrand for @MieshaTate!! What. A. Fight. #AndNew #UFC196 https://vine.co/v/iXrH7be561M
I hope Miesha Tate gets the same praise Holly did when she defeated Ronda. That was an incredible performance #UFC196
ANDNEW #UFC196!!! #ANDNEW #UFC196!!! #ANDNEW #UFC196!!! #ANDNEW #UFC196!!! #ANDNEW #UFC196!!! #TeamCupcake pic.twitter.com/SmOqY7K8Ga
Former UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre was in the house!
Look who's in the building for #UFC196!! @GeorgesStPierre https://vine.co/v/iXvvBB6OLw3
Latifi outpowers Villante
In a contest of powerful light-heavyweights, Sweden's Ilir Latifi was too much for American Gian Villante. Latifi is considered one of the physically strongest fighters in the UFC and that was on full display in a sweep of the scorecards.
Now THAT is a takedown! @LatifiMMA #UFC196 http://snpy.tv/1TXfKkW
Anderson edges out Lawlor in controversial decision
Tom Lawlor's decision to leave the 185-pound division and test the waters at 205 pounds hit a snag Saturday as he lost a perplexing decision to TUF 19 winner Corey Anderson. After stunning Anderson early with a series of punches, Lawlor proceeded to take control and dictate the pace of the fight. To Anderson's credit, however, he landed some strong strikes of his own but his punches didn't have the pop that Lawlor's did.
OHH MAN!!! Who do you have going into the third? #UC196 http://snpy.tv/21RJxwK
Anderson finished the second round strong and got the better of Lawlor in the third as we went to the judges' scorecards with many expecting a split decision. What we got, however, was a lopsided scorecard that didn't reflect how the fight unfolded. Two judges gave Anderson all three rounds.
2 judges gave it 30-27...how is that? #ufc196
Wtf? 30-27 by two judges?! Travesty.
MMA judging. AM I RIGHT YOU GUYS?!?! #UFC196 pic.twitter.com/MkSpBHs7dC
Nunes makes case for title shot
Many fight fans felt Amanda Nunes deserved a shot against former women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rounsey before Holly Holm got the call last year. Nunes showed Saturday she is still firmly in the mix at the top of the division after earning a unanimous decision win over world Muay Thai champion Valentina Shevchenko. Both women showed terrific skill and heart in all aspects of the fight but Nunes did enough to win the first two rounds before Shevchenko poured it on in the final frame.
"Gn'P strong for @Amanda_Leoa! #UFC196"
Bahadurzada makes triumphant return
Siyar Bahadurzada hadn't competed since December 2013 but put up a valiant effort against dangerous striker Brandon Thatch in the featured preliminary bout. Bahadurzada was out of commission for so long due to a multitude of injuries and surgeries but he looked strong in a submission win over Thatch. It was his first win since his UFC debut at April 2012.
Taleb destroys Silva
Tristar Gym's Nordine Taleb picked up the biggest win of his MMA career by putting Erick Silva to sleep with a massive punch. The two welterweights swung wild but early in the second round Taleb caught a Silva kick and clocked his opponent with perfect straight right hand that ended the fight.
Canadians and training partners were excited to see that type of finish from Taleb.
Nordine is now showing his true potential in the @ufc & from training with him, one thing he has always done well is catch kicks. #UFC196
Nordine by death touch. Congrats, @TNT83MMA !!! #50Gs #UFC196
What a KO #UFC196 happy the Canadian our reping well tonight @TNT83MMA
Nice finish @TNT83MMA #UFC196
Following his fight, Taleb spoke with Sportsnet MMA contributor James Lynch, who was in Las Vegas covering the action.
Miranda blasts Guimaraes
Vitor Miranda absolutely starched fellow Brazilian Marcelo Guimaraes with a combination of elbows, a head-kick and punches to pick up his third consecutive win in the UFC. One of the best strikers to come out of Brazil in the last decade, Miranda debuted in the UFC as a heavyweight but these days he's making waves in the middleweight division.
That combo by @Vithai!!!!! #UFC196 pic.twitter.com/8pRGk5isut
Elkins grinds out classic Elkins win
Darren Elkins has to be one of the most underrated fighters on the UFC roster. No, he's not going to dazzle you with pizzazz, but he will overwhelm you with a well-rounded, blue-collar attack and that's what led to him a unanimous decision win over Chas Skelly. The vast majority of his wins come via decision so he doesn't get the credit he deserves but Elkins has been in the UFC since 2010, racking up a 10-4 record. In fact, he now ranks second all time in featherweight wins with nine. Only Max Holloway's 11 wins at 145 pounds is more. Elkins outstruck Skelly 148-29 in this bout.
Veterans put on a show
In a meeting between battle-tested lightweights, Diego Sanchez edged Jim Miller with a competitive unanimous decision victory. Sanchez and Miller have been entertaining UFC fans for years and put on a terrific 15-minute show for those at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Too often in his career Sanchez has avoided his grappling and instead chosen to brawl, but the original "Ultimate Fighter" had a more measured approach and attacked with takedowns in this one.
Textbook #UFC196 http://snpy.tv/1p7KvHE
Miller proved to be the crisper striker when the two traded on the feet but it wasn't enough to earn the win.
OHHH!!!! That landed clean!!! @JimMiller_155 #UFC196 http://snpy.tv/1QyRnYy
During the fight, Sanchez passed Tito Ortiz and Gleison Tibau to now sit fifth in most total fight time in UFC history at 5:07:57.
Canadian Saggo gets it done quickly
P.E.I. resident Jason Saggo used some slick jiu-jitsu to get by Justin Salas early in their lightweight bout. Saggo (11-2) hadn't fought since a split decision loss to Paul Felder in October 2014 but looked like he hadn't missed a beat.
Beautiful ground game to set up the finish by @JasonSaggo! #UFC196 http://snpy.tv/1RuAA5d
Great win for Jason Saggo who gets the TKO victory. Would love to see him on the #UFCOttawa card #UFC196
Just wrapped up a media scrum with @jasonsaggo who gave big props to teammate @mattmacgrathmma. Says he should be UFC bound soon #UFC196
Also forgot to mention Saggo said he'd like to fight on #UFCOttawa card. But wants to fight right away. Preferably in Europe #UFC196
Kicking things off with a bang
In the first bout of the evening, Teruto Ishihara picked up his first UFC win with an impressive second-round knockout of Julian Erosa.
OMG!!!!! @Teruto_KO with the devastating finish!!!! #UFC196 http://snpy.tv/1X36qdn
Full UFC 196 results…
-- Nate Diaz def. Conor McGregor by SUB
-- Miesha Tate def. Holly Holm by SUB
-- Ilir Latifi def. Gian Villante by UD
-- Corey Anderson def. Tom Lawlor by UD
-- Amanda Nunes def. Valentina Shevchenko by UD
-- Siyar Bahadurzada def. Brandon Thatch by SUB
-- Nordine Taleb def. Erick Silva by KO
-- Vitor Miranda def. Marcelo Guimaraes by TKO
-- Darren Elkins def. Chas Skelly by UD
-- Diego Sanchez def. Jim Miller by UD
-- Jason Saggo def. Justin Salas by TKO
-- Teruto Ishihara def. Julian Erosa by KO