Conor McGregor said he was so humbled following his loss to Nate Diaz that he was “heartbroken.”
The events of UFC 196 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday were staggering, as will be the repercussions.
Driven by their competitive fire, both Holm and McGregor made decisions to accept their Saturday fights. In hindsight, the moves require a big fix.
Instead of waiting for the massive purse of a fall rematch with Rousey while wearing her women’s bantamweight belt, Holm, 34, opted to stay more active following her November triumph in Australia and pushed the UFC for a match against Tate.
She got it — and lost her belt.
UFC President Dana White said Saturday night on ESPN that Tate will fight Rousey next.
White said he texted Rousey, who was seen on social media watching the fight on her phone from a wrestling event in Reseda, and she texted, "Gonna have to get back to work ... ."
While Holm (10-1) relied on her world-champion boxing skill to win three of the first four rounds, Tate took her down in the fifth, then impressively maintained a chokehold on Holm’s neck while being flipped, flexing the rear naked choke to win by submission with 90 seconds remaining in the final round.
“I want to fight Miesha tomorrow,” Holm said. “Everyone before this fight was saying, ‘Why are you taking this fight? You should be going for the rematch.’ You know what, I’m in it to fight. Tonight, I made some mistakes. I’ll fix those mistakes and come back stronger. Miesha capitalized; she’s a scrapper. I let my guard down, and it cost me the fight. I wanted to take this challenge.”
Ireland’s McGregor (19-3) could’ve chosen a lighter man or not accepted Diaz’s hedging to fight at welterweight — 25 pounds above the popular featherweight champion’s typical weight limit.
Stockton’s Diaz (20-11) submitted McGregor in the second round after rocking him with heavy punches earlier in the round.
And now there’s some luster off the charismatic fighter who was becoming the UFC’s most popular, reflected by the 14,898 who attended his non-title bout against a substitute opponent, generating an $8.1-million gate. He expressed continued interest in fighting at UFC 200 in July at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, likely back at 145 pounds.
“This is part of the game. I took the fight. It didn’t work,” McGregor said. “[Diaz] can take a hell of a shot. It is what it is. I came up short. I took a chance; it didn’t pay off. I’ll get back."
McGregor immediately found incentive to move on, seeing a tweet posted from featherweight champion Jose Aldo relishing his rival’s loss after McGregor knocked out Aldo in 13 seconds in December.
“That’s the sign of a loser,” McGregor said.
“I know there’s a lot of celebrating this in the featherweight division. I’m the featherweight champion. I feel it is right to go back down and remind them of what I have achieved. I still feel UFC 200 is there for me. I’m simply heartbroken. I’ll pick myself up, and we’ll figure it out in the morning.
“Usually, I fight a man in my division, and they crumble with those shots. Nate took them very well. The weight allowed him to take those shots. With a little bit of an adjustment and a recognition that, with the bigger man, you have to be more efficient with my shots … I made some errors. Hats off to Nate. It was a battle of energy he got the better of.”
McGregor said former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar makes the most sense to be his next opponent, given Aldo’s prior withdrawal from their July 2015 date because of a rib injury.
White said the penciled-in script for what was to be with the expected McGregor and Holm victories has become seriously unsettled.
“I don’t know. We’ll see how this thing plays out,” White said. “We weren’t planning [UFC] 200 until tonight played out, anyway. Sixteen years in this business, the one thing you don’t do is plan out what will happen.”
In addition to figuring out McGregor’s next bout, White has to decide when a third Tate-Rousey fight — Rousey won the first two — would take place and when Holm would fight again, and against whom. White had hoped for a Rousey-Holm rematch in what he previously said would be the most lucrative UFC fight in history.
“I’ll talk to my management and the UFC and make a decision,” Tate said. “My job as champion is to fight the next-best fighter, whoever that is.”
Meanwhile, Diaz urged the UFC to promote him more, and McGregor suggested that Diaz fight the lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos, whose foot injury led McGregor to fight at 170.
Also Saturday, another UFC 200 possibility was raised when former welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre attended the card. Welterweight champion Robbie Lawler needs a fight by the summer.
“Have we talked to Georges? Yes,” White said. “I honestly don’t know if Georges still wants to fight.”
After Saturday, White honestly doesn’t know many things.
Follow Lance Pugmire on Twitter: @latimespugmire