Wow, just wow. What a night of top shelf fighting entertainment. UFC 196 was one for the record books. The pay-per-view saw major upsets, a belt changing hands and more than just a little blood. I’ll admit I haven’t seen all the other UFC events but my interest has been growing and I’ve been lucky enough to catch the last few. And hands down, this was the best night of fighting I’ve ever seen.
Going into the contest, the major storylines centered on champs Holly Holm and Conor McGregor. Holm famously knocked out undefeated Ronda Rousey in her last match to claim the Bantamweight Championship. It was her first defense of the title against Miesha Tate. Most gave Holly the advantage because of her longer reach and because she beat Ronda, who has already beat Tate twice. But fighting doesn’t work like that. You can’t assume someone will win based on similar opponents. It’s more Rock-Paper-Scissors than you think.
Miesha Tate is a baller. I didn’t originally think she had much of a shot but she earned my respect. She scrapped the entire time, took some damage but waited for the right windows and she made the most of them. Her takedowns were the difference maker. The scoring was close going into the final round and she knew she couldn’t leave it up to the judges. A quick move and the fighters were locked up. Tate got behind Holm and locked in the rear naked choke and it was over. Give Holly credit, she battled and escaped an insane second round to take back control but Tate was better in the end. Hats off. After it was over, I thought “there is no way to top that” but then the main event started.
I like Conor McGregor. He is funny, charming and looks like he is truly enjoying himself. I was pulling for him but Nate Diaz had other plans. These two got into right away and the fists were flying. Diaz didn’t look to be in great shape and Conor opened his face instantly. Seemed like this battle was going to be over soon. But then a funny thing happened, Nate didn’t go down. He kept getting rocked but never faltered. In the second round, another funny thing happened, Conor got a little tired, lowered his guard and got hit. Hard. That was the turning point. Diaz took over after that. A few brutal strikes and the dynamic completely shifted.
Nate Diaz got McGregor on his back, delivered some wicked blows before clamping into a chokehold. And just like that, it was done. I was stunned. Maybe Conor was too aggressive and wasted too much energy early on but the real takeaway is Diaz’ toughness. Man can that dude (his brother too) take a punch. His chin is granite. There is just no quit in him. I think that resiliency confused and frustrated Conor. Maybe it got in his head a bit. Either way, Diaz stayed on his feet and weathered the Notorious storm and deserved to win based on guts alone. Oh yeah and there was so much blood. Like Mortal Kombat amount of blood.
This was a huge win for President Dana White and the rest of the UFC. It’s great to have stars like McGregor and Rousey but it’s better to have upsets and some real competition at the top. Those undefeated streaks need to end. This sets up great rematches and creates new and interesting stories to follow.
No, thank you UFC 196. It was truly epic. Can’t wait to see what’s next.
Pass the band-aids.