One of the wildest nights in MMA history concluded Saturday night in Las Vegas with 5-1 underdog Nate Diaz submitting brash-talking Conor McGregor in the second round of a non-title welterweight fight. That came after Miesha Tate stopped women's bantamweight champion Holly Holm by submission in the fifth round of their title fight. Check out the fight-by-fight coverage of every bout.
Photo gallery: UFC 196 from the MGM Grand Garden Arena
Miesha Tate's everlasting grip caused Holly Holm to lose hers on the Ultimate Fighting Championship belt, and Nate Diaz quieted the organization's Conor McGregor attraction.
UFC 196 at MGM Grand became a night of upsets Saturday as Tate wrested the women's bantamweight belt from Holm and Diaz made McGregor pay for his 25-pound move up in weight by causing him to tap out in the second round.
Ireland's popular and quick-witted McGregor, the featherweight (145 pounds) champion who opted to move up to 170 pounds to fight replacement foe Diaz because of lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos' foot injury, was wobbled and weakened by a hard Diaz punch earlier in the second round.
Diaz (20-10), a former UFC lightweight title challenger from Stockton, got the better of McGregor as the stand-up action continued.
Then, when McGregor tried to shoot for a takedown, Diaz gladly accepted the turn to his jiujitsu specialty and delivered a rear-naked chokehold that forced McGregor (19-3) to tap out 4 minutes 12 seconds into the round.
“Are you surprised?” Diaz said to the crowd after landing the fight less than two weeks ago. “It was a slow start for me. When I'm not in the best shape … I start slow.
When the fight went to the canvas, “I knew I had it,” said Diaz, trained by members of the Gracie family who brought UFC to America. “My jiujitsu's always there when I hit the ground. I'm a warrior. There's a new king, right here.”
McGregor did well standing and fighting in the first round with left punches, but his knees buckled twice on punches by Diaz in the second round and he admitted fatigue set in.
“I felt good in the first round, but I was inefficient,” McGregor said. “He was efficient, I wasn't.”
McGregor can now choose to fight Dos Anjos (at 155 pounds) in July or return to defend his featherweight belt.
“I took a chance,” moving up in weight, McGregor said. “It didn't work out. I'll come back.”
The other stunner happened because Holm couldn't stave off Tate's chokehold and, more importantly, attached uncertainty to the fight everyone wanted to see most — Holm's rematch with Ronda Rousey.
Leaving sick looks on the faces of UFC executives, Tate took down Holm in the final two minutes of the fifth and final round and produced a fight-ending chokehold on Holm that complicates plans for Holm's mega-million-dollar rematch with Rousey in the fall.
“We had a great gameplan, I knew I had to be patient … and find the perfect moment,” Tate said.
The end, after Holm failed to flip Tate off her and wound up allowing Tate a stronger choking position, came 3:30 into the fifth found.
“She has a lot of heart, I respect her so much as a champion for stepping in there,” Tate said.
In her second UFC title shot — she has lost twice overall to Rousey — Tate (18-5) seemed headed to losing a decision to Holm, appearing beat in three of the first four rounds because of the striking and kicking prowess that won Holm the Rousey bout.
Holm (10-1), fighting for the first time since her upset of Rousey in November, won a slow first round with more strikes and a couple clean kicks, one to Tate's midsection.
Tate responded with an early takedown in the second and delivered extended punishment to Holm, including fists and elbows to the head.
Holm wiggled slightly loose, but Tate hung on, mounting Holm from behind and seeking a clinching choke.
Holm's survival, by desperately pulling Tate's arm free of her neck late in the round, allowed her to fight in her preferred stand-up method in the third and she struck Tate with more punches and kicks.
In the fourth, Holm fended off two Tate takedown tries and punished the challenger with some punches on the second attempt while remaining atop Tate. Another late combination of punches sealed the round for the champion.
The victory by the 3-1 underdog came after Tate fell out of position to fight Rousey last year, as UFC matchmakers and executives passed her over for Holm, a former world champion boxer.
Holm sought Tate as a means to stay active after Rousey said she needed to delay a planned rematch at UFC 200 in July to pursue film work for a remake of the Patrick Swayze film “Roadhouse.”
Now, the option of Tate-Holm II in July contends with the possibilities of Tate-Rousey III or Holm-Rousey II in the fall
Brazil's women's bantamweight Amanda Nunes opened the pay-per-view portion of the card by defeating Valentina Shevchenko by unanimous decision, 29-28, 29-27, 29-27.
Nunes asserted control in the second round, getting atop Shevchenko and pummeling her with elbows to head and ultimately pursuing chokes.
Nunes (12-4), ranked fourth in the division, had designs on pressing for a title shot, but she was in some trouble in the third, absorbing a knee to the head and some punishment on the ground.
One day before the card, the UFC announced several title fights and other major bouts on its spring calendar.
It includes a June 4 card at the Forum headlined by a middleweight title-fight rematch between champion Luke Rockhold and Chris Weidman, and a third fight between bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz and challenger Urijah Faber.
Following Miesha Tate's submission of Holly Holm in an upset in the co-main event of UFC 196, things only got wilder Saturday night in Las Vegas. Conor McGregor, who had run through all UFC competition and was a nearly 5-1 favorite, was rocked badly with punches by Nate Diaz and then submitted on the ground in the second round of their main event bout. It was the biggest win of Diaz's career by a wide margin and a huge setback for the brash Irishman who had set the MMA world on fire.
The question is now where does McGregor go from here. McGregor had talked of trying to win titles in three weight classes, but he might be forced to return to 145 pounds after the stunning loss. The criticism will come in hard on McGregor, as it always does on athletes who talk as loudly and as proudly as McGregor has. It's unclear whether McGregor's supporters will follow him with the same enthusiasm that they did up to this point. He will unquestionably remain a major star but not necessarily at the same level.
This also complicates matters for UFC 200 in July, which was planned to be the biggest event in UFC history. If McGregor is ready to return then, he won't have the same luster that he did going into this fight. Ronda Rousey is unavailable. There aren't any other fights that would seem to elevate that card with the exception of the return of the great Georges St-Pierre, who retired and may or may not be interested in returning to the octagon.
For Nate Diaz, it's a crowning achievement in a career that has often been overshadowed by older brother Nick. He succeeded with his best tools -- his technical boxing and dangerous submissions. It proved to be a difficult combination for McGregor. Diaz's path forward is unclear. His best weight class is 155 pounds, but he lost decisively to lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos, who was supposed to be headlining this show with McGregor but had to pull out because of a broken foot. Regardless of where Diaz goes from here, he was the biggest winner on an evening when conventional thinking and major plans were thrown off in a major way.
Conor McGregor’s ascent in MMA has been nearly unprecedented, talking trash like arguably no other fighter in the history of the sport and then backing it every step of the way. His last fight was a 13-second knockout of longtime champion Jose Aldo, capturing the UFC featherweight title. He was to fight for the lightweight title at this show against Rafael Dos Anjos, but Dos Anjos had to pull out of the fight with a broken foot. The colorful Nate Diaz steps in on short notice in a weleterweight fight without the same stakes but perhaps more fan interest given Diaz’s wild style and reputation.
Round 1. McGregor comes out immediately switching stances back and forth. He throws a wild spinning kick and Diaz clinches. Nothing happens there and they separate. Diaz starts pawing at McGregor with the jab while McGregor loads up for power shots. McGregor has his chin out, not showing a lot of concern for Diaz's power. Diaz is throwing more as McGregor approaches. Diaz continues to halt McGregor's approach by throwing out his jab. McGregor lands a nice left hand, one of his best shots of the fight. Diaz is bleeding near his right eye. However, he does keep landing his jab. McGregor is landing less but landing harder. Diaz gets a takedown with 40 seconds left but McGregor rolls into top position. McGregor lands some punches from the top. Close round, definitely could have gone either way. 10-9 McGregor.
Round 2. McGregor throws a spinning kick that misses but follows with a hard punch to the body. McGregor lands a stiff punch and elbow shortly thereafter. Diaz clinches and looks for a takedown. He doesn't get it and McGregor goes back to work. He is getting off more and because he hits harder, he is doing a lot of damage. Diaz's face is a mess. Diaz does land a few quality punches but he doesn't have the same power as McGregor. Diaz hurts McGregor with a couple of punches. He backs McGregor up with more straight punches and has McGregor in major trouble. Diaz is pouring it on up against the cage. McGregor is rocked and is just trying to hang on. McGregor answers back with hard punches but Diaz hurts him again. McGregor is forced to shoot for a takedown but Diaz goes for a choke. He grabs a rear naked choke and gets the submission.
Winner: Nate Diaz, submission, round 2.
Going into her fight with Holly Holm in November, Ronda Rousey was clearly the biggest mainstream star in MMA (with all due respect to Conor McGregor). Her violent upset loss to Holm temporarily derailed that gravy train, but it did have one notable positive side effect: a massive rematch that could set records as the biggest fight in the history of the sport. Four months later, that's gone now too.
That's not to say there aren't still big fights on the horizon in the UFC women's bantamweight division. Rousey returning to fight her longtime rival Tate for the title would be a big money attraction, as would a revenge fight against Holm. However, neither of those two possibilities will offer up the perfect storm that was Rousey returning to try to reclaim her title against the undefeated champion that unseated her. Holm, after being choked unconscious, doesn't have the same aura that she did after beating Rousey. Tate has been submitted by Rousey twice already. The same glow just isn't present.
The principal owners of the UFC, the Fertitta brothers, made their money in the casinos. They've taken that gambling mentality into fight promotion. Rousey didn't want to fight until the fall and Holm wanted another fight as soon as possible, so they put her in with Tate. It was a massive gamble, like they've gambled many times in the past. This time, they came up short.
In November, Holm scored one of the most consequential upsets in the history of the sport, knocking out the formerly unbeaten superstar Ronda Rousey. UFC initially wanted to hold off Holm’s first title defense for Rousey’s return, but Rousey didn’t want to return until the fall so Tate gets the opportunity here. Tate has been one of the best fighters in her division for years and is a formidable challenge for Holm. If Holm loses, it takes a lot of the steam off a Holm/Rousey rematch for the title that could be the biggest money fight in the history of the sport.
Round 1. Tate perhaps surprisingly is content to fight from distance early on. Holm throws some kicks but waits for Tate to move in. Tate catches a kick and looks for a takedown. She doesn't come close, but she does land a hard punch as she separates. At the halfway point of the round, it has been mostly even with not a lot of action. Holm moves in with a few punches but isn't landing a lot of note. There does appear to be some discoloration around Tate's eye. Tate does land a counter hook as Holm moves in. Holm throws a high kick that Tate defends with her hand. 10-9 Holm.
Round 2. Tate gets the takedown 30 seconds in. She grabs Holm's neck and lands some punches from inside Holm's half guard. Tate adds some elbows as well while controlling Holm's body. Holm is working her way toward the cage but Tate is controlling her well on the ground. Tate continues dropping down punches. Holm turns her back and Tate takes Holm's back. Tate looks to secure a rear naked choke and gets her arm under Holm's neck. Holm defends well, preventing Tate from securing the hold with her other arm and the round ends. 10-8 Tate.
Round 3. The fighters start out back on their feet again, where Holm has the advantage. Holm is a little more active than in the first round, throwing out straight punches and mixing in kicks. Holm catches Tate with a nice straight punch. Tate ducks in for a takedown but it is stuffed easily. Holm catches Tate with a nice two punch combination. She has done a nice job turning things around after a very rough second round. Tate moves in with a few looping punches before Holm pushes her off. Tate shoots in for long distance and doesn't come close. 10-9 Holm.
Round 4. Holm comes out fairly aggressive again, like in the third. She is throwing more often, but Tate catches a kick and looks for a takedown. Holm blocks that and they return to distance. Holm throws a few low kicks but isn't as active. She doesn't connect with a front kick. Tate looks for a double-leg takedown and gets a good hold of Holm, but she can't follow through with it. She has to let go and back off. Tate eats a front kick moving in and Holm follows with a few punches. 10-9 Holm, 38-37 Holm going into the final round.
Round 5. Holm throws a few punches and then catches Tate with a side kick to the body when Tate covers up her head. Holm continues to work from range while Tate looks for the chance to clinch and go for a takedown. Tate clinches and goes for a takedown but it is defended again. Tate moves in with a punch and goes for a takedown that is again stopped. Tate gets a takedown with two minutes left. Holm looks to stand up but Tate grabs her back in the process and gets Holm's neck. Holm tries to throw her off but she can't and Holm is forced to submit.
Winner: Miesha Tate, submission, round 5.
Ilir Latifi is a compact, powerful light-heavyweight and he has three first-round knockouts in his last four fights to back that up, including two in a row in less than a minute. Gian Villante trains out of the Serra-Longo camp and has three wins in his last four as well.
Round 1. Villante comes out looking to take advantage of his length and reach advantage, throwing kicks low and high. Latifi moves in for a takedown and clinches with Villante up against the cage. Villante prevents the takedown and backs away. Villante goes back to work with kicks to the leg and Latifi appears to be walking funny a little. Latifi catches Villante with a hard punch and moves in for another takedown attempt. That might have been a mistake as Villante regains his composure by the cage while defending. Villante lands a knee to the body, eats a couple punches, and backs off. Latifi clinches and again looks for a takedown. Villante again blocks it. Latifi comes in with wild punches and looks for another takedown. It is again blocked. Villante lands a hard kick to the leg. 10-9 Villante.
Round 2. Villante opens up by landing some kicks. Latifi lands one of his own. Latifi throws Villante with a beautiful suplex and looks to take Villante’s back. Villante prevents that and they return to their feet. Villante lands a nice straight right hand but Latifi answers with a punch to the body. Latifi moves in for another takedown attempt but Villante stops it. Villante connects with a nice overhand right. Latifi lands a spinning back kick. Latifi looks for another takedown attempt and again it is prevented. Latifi gets a takedown near the close of the round and lands a few punches but Villante gets back up. 10-9 Latifi.
Round 3. Latifi goes back to looking for a takedown but Villante blocks it. Latifi throws a hard left hand that doesn’t connect all the way but still connects pretty solidly. Latifi staggers Villante with a big looping punch but Villante keeps coming. Latifi hurts Villante with another hard left but Latifi doesn’t follow up. Villante is walking Latifi down but he just isn’t throwing much at all, which negates that movement. Latifi gets a takedown late but Villante stands up. 10-9 Latifi, 29-28 Latifi.
Winner: Ilir Latifi, unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).
That wasn't a good fight for either man. Both looked tired throughout much of the fight. Latifi's wrestling wasn't particularly effective, nor was Villante's striking. It was mostly a dull stalemate.
In a light heavyweight division with few quality young fighters, the 26-year-old Anderson has the opportunity to be one of the division’s best over the next 10 years. He won the light-heavyweight tournament on the 19th season of the Ultimate Fighter and is 7-1 in MMA with four UFC wins. The colorful and entertaining “Filthy” Tom Lawlor is looking to secure a second consecutive upset after knocking out Gian Villante last July. He entered the weigh-ins on Friday with fake Conor McGregor tattoos and came to the cage for this fight singing to Madonna’s “Like a Prayer.”
Round 1. Lawlor clinches and hurts Anderson badly with a series of hard punches from close range. Lawlor appears on the verge of finishing the fight but Anderson hangs on and eventually fires back. Lawlor is cautious in not becoming too aggressive and opening himself up for counters. Anderson moves in for a takedown and Lawlor blocks it. Anderson becomes more comfortable in the standup as the round progresses, landing some jabs and attempting to take advantage of his reach advantage. Lawlor fires back with some solid punches of his own. 10-9 Lawlor.
Round 2. Lawlor catches Anderson off balance with a brief takedown but Anderson returns to his feet. Lawlor lands a couple of nice punches as the pace of the fight slows. Anderson lands a few punches of his own. Neither man is connecting much. Lawlor lands a few solid punches by the cage but this time Anderson answers back and hurts Lawlor with a few hard shots. Anderson lands a knee late. That round could have gone either way. 10-9 Anderson.
Round 3. Lawlor lands a nice right hand early. Anderson shoots in for a takedown and gets it a minute into the round. He ends up immediately in the advantageous side control position. Anderson throws some knees to the body from there. Lawlor gets half guard position but Anderson lands a number of elbows and punches from that position. He continues to work until a standup with a minute left in the round. Anderson lands a couple of low kicks on the feet. First round was clearly Lawlor, third round was clearly Anderson and it will all come down to the second. 10-9 Anderson, 29-28 Anderson.
Winner: Corey Anderson, unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Those 30-27 scorecards are pretty suspect given Lawlor hurt Anderson badly in the first round, which wasn’t really even close, let alone an Anderson round. Still, Anderson deserves credit for pushing through early adversity and doing well late against a game opponent.
In the marquee women’s bantamweight division, the top contenders are jostling for an opportunity to fight one of the money players at the top of the division. Nunes and Shevchenko are two of those contenders. Nunes is a strong ground fighter who has won five of her last seven fights in the first round. Shevchenko is surprisingly the first Kyrgyzian/Peruvian UFC fighter of Russian descent and sports an impressive 12-1 record with a win in her UFC debut against Sarah Kaufman.
Round 1. The fighters start tentatively, showing respect for the game of the other and keeping at distance. The occasional punches and kicks mostly come one at a time, with Nunes throwing a little more. Nunes keeps looking for a high kick but none of her efforts come close. The crowd boos for the first time with a minute left in the round, generally impatient at the lack of action likely because the card has been action filled thus far. Nunes gets a late takedown and lands a few punches towards the end. 10-9 Nunes.
Round 2. The fighters exchange kicks early and Nunes catches Shevchenko off balance for a takedown. She lands some hard punches and elbows on the ground from half guard position, showcasing the finishing power she is known for and that few women in her division possess. Shevchenko is cut and isn’t offering up much in the way of defense or counter offense. Shevchenko makes an effort to get back up but cannot do so. Nunes works into side control and then takes Shevchenko’s back. Nunes looks for a rear naked choke but struggles to get under the neck. Nunes loses position and Shevchenko ends up on top to conclude the round. 10-8 Nunes.
Round 3. Nunes ducks in for a takedown but she eats a hard knee and elbow and Shevchenko slams her to the canvas. Shevchenko gets into side control, a complete role reversal from the second round. Shevchenko looks for an Americana submission but doesn’t get it. Nunes pushes Shevchenko off and returns to her feet. Shevchenko lands a couple of hard knees to the head while on their feet and looks firmly in control after a rough first two rounds. Shevchenko throws a spinning back fist and then lands another knee to the head. She follows with a knee to the body a little later. Shevchenko continues to land punches late and stuffs a takedown. Shevchenko really turned it on late. It’s a shame she didn’t perform like that early. 10-9 Shevchenko, 29-27 Nunes.
Winner: Amanda Nunes, unanimous decision (29-28, 29-27, 29-27).
After the fight, Nunes calls for a title shot. With three straight wins and five wins in her last six, she has a quality claim but there are more well-known fighters in the division who will likely be given preference.
WARNING: Strong language is used with plenty of bleeps (this is mixed martial arts, after all).
For more than two years, the first Afghan fighter in the history of the UFC was out of action. At UFC 196, Siyar Bahadurzada fought for the first time since 2013 and he was impressive in victory. Early on, he engaged in a wild brawl with the dangerous Brandon Thatch. Later on, he relied on his ground game and took Thatch down on multiple occasions. He then showcased his submission game to finish the fight, submitting Thatch with an arm triangle at 4:11 of the final round.
Bahadurzada was his own biggest critic on the evening. “I wanted to come back and make a statement,” he remarked after the fight. “Unfortunately I was very disappointed in my performance. Staying away two years has its effects on how you fight, but I promise I’ll be better next time.” If that’s the case, trouble is on the way for his future opponents.
For Brandon Thatch, it’s another disappointing setback. Thatch was viewed as an elite prospect in the sport before dropping his last three fights, all via submission. He’ll need to regroup and diversify his skills in order to realize the potential many once saw in him.
Erick Silva had a few dirty tricks up his sleeve against Nordine Taleb, but it wasn’t enough to defeat the French competitor in an exciting back-and-forth battle. Late in the first round, Silva extended his fist for what appeared to be an offering of a respectful touch of gloves. Taleb fell for the ploy and when he went to touch gloves, Silva attacked with a hook using the same glove. It wasn’t illegal, but it was certainly sneaky.
In the second round, Taleb made Silva pay for the underhanded tactic. Taleb caught Silva with a straight right hand that knocked the Brazilian out 1:34 into the round. Taleb has now won four of his last five fights in the UFC and his crisp standup is entertaining to watch.
Vitor Miranda’s striking proved too much for Marcelo Guimaraes, as “Lex Luthor” overwhelmed his Brazilian compatriot with strikes in the second round. Miranda comes from a kickboxing background and throughout the bout he was getting the best of the standup.
In the second round, he hurt Guimaraes with a head kick and landed additional hard punches to cause a referee stoppage at 1:09. With a third straight win, Miranda is likely due for some solid challenges in the middleweight division.
Heading into Saturday night, Chas Skelly had accumulated four consecutive UFC wins, a difficult task for any fighter. Early against Darren Elkins, the formerly 15-1 Skelly showed why he had that success. He punished Elkins with hard punches in open range and threatened with submissions when Elkins closed distance. However, Skelly’s early advantage wouldn’t last at UFC 196.
Elkins throughout his UFC career has been the quintessential grinder. He pressures opponents with continual takedown attempts, wearing them down and doing damage on the ground. Skelly couldn’t withstand that pressure. He grew tired from Elkins’ onslaught and Elkins took over with his wrestling ability as the fight continued.
In the end, Elkins picked up a clear judges’ decision with 30-27, 29-27 and 30-26 scorecards.
Diego Sanchez and Jim Miller are two of the most experienced veterans in the history of the UFC, with a collective 43 bouts heading into their contest Saturday night. Sanchez and Miller engaged in a hard-fought battle, with Sanchez earning the unanimous-decision victory (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).
The first round belonged to Sanchez on the basis of a takedown and some ground and pound. In the second round, Miller got the better of the striking and threatened Sanchez with submissions as well.
That meant the fight came down to the third round, in which Sanchez did just a little bit more in the striking department to get the nod. It was Sanchez’s best MMA performance since a win over Paulo Thiago in 2010.
Justin Salas, a former Division I wrestler, elected to take submission specialist Jason Saggo to the ground in the first round of their fight. It proved to be a major miscalculation.
Salas reversed Saggo, took top position, worked his way into back control, and pounded out Salas with strikes for a first-round TKO. It is the second win in three UFC fights for Saggo, while Salas drops to 3-4 in the UFC.