UFC 196 Results: The Real Winners and Losers from McGregor vs. Diaz Fight Card
A late change in opponent doesn't typically lead to a change in career trajectory.
That's just more evidence that Conor McGregor is not your typical fighter.
At UFC 196, which went down Saturday from Las Vegas, McGregor was competing in a weight class he hadn't tried in the UFC before. He originally had a shot to make history, as the reigning featherweight champ made a run at lightweight champ Rafael dos Anjos and two-division dominance.
McGregor, who held two title belts while competing in Europe, is clearly someone who wants to make big statements. After Dos Anjos pulled out with a foot injury, the potential statement grew even bigger when the Irishman moved up yet another division to welterweight, where Nate Diaz agreed to take the fight on less than two weeks' notice.
Therein lies McGregor's new career path. Even as he spent the week matching invective with the wildly popular Diaz, the name of welterweight champion Robbie Lawler suddenly began to bubble up, overtaking Dos Anjos as the favored target of the moment. Even UFC brass got behind (h/t Sherdog) the idea.
But first, there was Diaz, a dangerous boxer and jiu-jitsu ace. Did McGregor turn the Lawler talk up to 10, or was Diaz the one to finally quash McGregor's Big Mo?
Oh, and Holly Holm—remember her?—defended her women's bantamweight title for the first time, facing Miesha Tate in the co-main event.
There were 10 other fights on this card, and as always, the final stat lines only reveal so much. These are the real winners and losers from UFC 196.
For the literal-minded among us, full card results appear on the final slide.
Winner: Nate Diaz
Nate Diaz, the welterweight from Stockton, California, submitted Conor McGregor in the final moments of the second round.
Early on, McGregor had the faster hands and opened up a cut around the right eye of Diaz that was bleeding profusely in short order. The first round probably went to the Irishman on most scorecards.
And then there was the second round.
Round 2 was a little different. Obviously, a little or a lot of blood isn't going to faze Diaz, even when it's his own. During an exchange, he landed one of his patented one-two combination. The right cross at the end of the combo landed on the point of McGregor's chin.
McGregor's eyes seemed to glaze over a bit at that moment.
He appeared to spiral downhill from that point. He certainly tired more quickly at 170 pounds, while Diaz began to gain momentum, landing combinations with more and more ease and speed. They were rocking the featherweight champ. Meanwhile, Diaz shook off McGregor's famous left-hand shots like so many three-leaf clovers.
After the action hit the ground, it was Diaz's world. When he quickly achieved full mount, McGregor rolled and gave up his back. Diaz locked on the choke, and it was over.
"I'm not surprised, motherf--kers," Diaz said simply to broadcaster Joe Rogan in the cage after the right.
He also said he "knew it would be a slow start for me, so I knew I would have to start slow and pick up and let go." That's the perfect opposite of McGregor.
Congratulations to the lad from Stockton. Here's hoping he gets a big check and at least once more big fight. Who will it be? A rematch with McGregor? Welterweight champ Robbie Lawler? It will certainly be interesting, won't it?
Loser: Conor McGregor
The rangier Diaz had McGregor's number Saturday. McGregor ran out of gas out at the larger weight class, punching himself out early and failing to fully recover in the face of adversity.
Questions about his grappling acumen have also already boiled back to the surface.
It wasn't the welterweight debut he imagined, but the fact that it was a new experience does help explain McGregor's disadvantages against Diaz. The move was a risk when he made it, and he acknowledged that—as well as the fair-and-square loss—when he spoke to Rogan in the cage.
"I took the chance going up to 170, but Nate, I mean, I think I took the first, but I wasn't efficient with my energy," McGregor said. "I'm humble in victory and defeat, so respect to Nate for getting it done."
McGregor will certainly be back. Will it be at welterweight? Probably not.
Winner: Miesha Tate
We have a new champion in the UFC women's bantamweight division, and her name is Miesha Tate.
The dynamic was clear from the opening minutes. Tate had a clear advantage on the ground. Holm was a little better on the feet. Could the challenger get inside and get the champ to the mat, or would Holm keep things upright and outpoint or knock out Tate?
Holm was the more successful fighter on that front. With two notable exceptions.
Tate landed a big takedown in the second round, dominated Holm on the canvas with ground strikes and two near-submissions and arguably earned a 10-8 score for the round.
After that, she went cold again. Repeatedly feinting on strikes and being judicious about her wrestling, Tate attempted just nine takedowns, according to FightMetric. Holm stuffed seven of them, landing enough jabs and side kicks in between to gain a narrow edge in the other rounds.
Oh, but there was that second takedown, too.
It came halfway through the fifth. Tate dragged Holm to the ground like she was roping a steer and made for Holm's neck immediately. She got the choke. Holm resisted but eventually passed out.
It was over. Tate jumped up and let out a scream in the center of the cage.
None other than lightweight champ Dos Anjos tweeted after the result: "Jiu-jitsu save(s) lives."
Now, Tate will probably head into a trilogy match at UFC 200 with one Ronda Rousey, who has beaten Tate twice before. They are bitter rivals.
It's not what UFC officials wanted. They would surely have preferred to see Holm retain and square with Rousey in a huge rematch. But that fight is still out there, even if it's diminished. I have a feeling one or two people might be interested in watching this one as well.
Loser: Holly Holm
Once again, Holm was prepared. It just wasn't enough, and her goal of defending the belt that made her a star will have to wait, at least for a while.
It was clear she was aware of Tate's strengths. She stopped seven of nine takedown attempts, after all. Once Tate latched on to that late choke—"like a pit bull on a bone," as Tate said to Rogan in the cage—Holm did everything she could to escape.
She ultimately refused to tap, forcing Tate to choke her unconscious in order to wrest the belt away.
You have to respect Holm's toughness and another well-executed game plan. It just didn't go her way this time.
Holm will be back. Of course, this loss is a big setback, but she still has her victory over Rousey in her back pocket. If Rousey is the competitor that most people believe her to be, she will want to avenge that loss. That bodes well for at least one more major fight for Holm, in addition to a potential rematch with Tate down the road.
This is why it was good, in the long run, to keep Holm and the belt busy. Now, there is a triangle of intrigue at the top of what is probably MMA's highest-profile division. Holm is still very much in the thick of things.
Winners: The UFC Women's Bantamweight and Strawweight Divisions
In the pay-per-view opener, Amanda Nunes established herself as a bona fide contender at bantamweight. Outside of the Holm-Tate-Rousey triangle, who else has a stronger claim to a title shot right now than Nunes?
This was the final thing she needed: to prove she could sustain her effort over 15 full minutes. What would happen when she didn't get a first-round finish, as she had in her past two fights and in four of her five career UFC contests? She hadn't gone the distance since she fought for Invicta back in 2013.
She responded Saturday by ground and pounding Valentina Shevchenko—who just beat Sarah Kaufman in her UFC debut—for three full rounds, leaving the Russian bloodied and the judges convinced.
If all of this wasn't enough, after Nunes' hand had been raised, the camera panned the crowd and just happened to find strawweight champ Joanna Jedrzejczyk, who just completed filming her season coaching The Ultimate Fighter opposite top challenger Claudia Gadelha. If any other cageside luminary (besides Georges St-Pierre) got a bigger pop from the Las Vegas crowd than Jedrzejczyk, I certainly didn't hear it.
Loser: Brandon Thatch
When Brandon Thatch blew into the UFC back in 2013, observers saw him as an electric muay thai striker who, for his notable deficiencies (i.e., wrestling), had the charisma and potential to be a legitimate force in the welterweight division.
In 2016, that assessment is exactly the same. Only instead of being on his way in, he may well be on his way out.
In a fight he should have pulled out all the stops to win, Thatch instead was bullied and eventually choked out by Siyar Bahadurzada for his dreaded third consecutive UFC defeat—the mark at which fighters are often released from the promotion.
The Colorado native was unable to stop Bahadurzada's takedowns or provide any meaningful resistance once he was on his back. Sure, the striking was flashy as always, but spinning elbows and other stuff don't exactly help with the gas tank if they don't connect. Thatch gassed badly down the stretch, and by the time he tapped out, he looked like he didn't want to be there anymore.
Thatch is now 30 years old. He is no longer a prospect. He's at the point now where habits start to become destiny. Why is he so unwilling or unable to acquire more wrestling and grappling skills? As a tall welterweight at 6'2", is his cut to 170 pounds too steep for him to preserve sufficient stamina?
There are more questions right now than answers for Thatch. Unfortunately for him (or perhaps fortunately), he may now need to work out those solutions on one of the sport's lower circuits.
Winner: Teruto Ishihara
In the first fight of the night, before the fashionable Vegas crowd even started staggering in in earnest, Teruto Ishihara made a statement of his own.
In just his second UFC fight and first contest on U.S. soil, the 24-year-old featherweight landed a huge uppercut on Julian Erosa to notch his seventh pro win by knockout. He definitely started the event with a bang.
But the impression wasn't quite over yet. After the fight, Ishihara said, “The punch I threw is in my nature, it’s like getting girls.” And now we have a full-blown prospect on our hands.
UFC 196 Full Card Results
- Nate Diaz def. Conor McGregor by submission (rear-naked choke), 4:12, Rd. 1
- Miesha Tate def. Holly Holm by submission (rear-naked choke), 3:30, Rd. 5 (Tate becomes new UFC women's bantamweight champion)
- Ilir Latifi def. Gian Villante by unanimous decision
- Corey Anderson def. Tom Lawlor by unanimous decision
- Amanda Nunes def. Valentina Shevchenko by unanimous decision
- Siyar Bahadurzada def. Brandon Thatch by submission (arm-triangle choke), 1:55, Rd. 3
- Nordine Taleb def. Erick Silva by KO, 1:34, Rd. 2
- Vitor Miranda def. Marcelo Guimaraes by TKO, 1:09, Rd. 2
- Darren Elkins def. Chas Skelly by unanimous decision
- Diego Sanchez def. Jim Miller by unanimous decision
- Jason Saggo def. Justin Salas by TKO, 4:31, Rd. 1
- Teruto Ishihara def. Julian Erosa by KO, 0:34, Rd. 2
Scott Harris writes about MMA for Bleacher Report. For more stuff like this, follow Scott on Twitter.