In what turned out to be one the craziest nights of fights in a long time, two favorites both saw unprecedented losses in both the co-main, and main event. Miesha Tate defeated Holly Holm by rear-naked choke in the 5th round of their bout to claim the women’s bantamweight title, and Nate Diaz did the same to Conor McGregor in the 2nd round to get the win in their welterweight match.
To say that I am shocked would be a complete understatement. I had full confidence in both Holm and McGregor, but congratulations to Tate and Diaz for proving me wrong, and shocking the world.
In the co-main event, Tate and Holm engaged in a great back and forth battle that featured action both on the ground and on the mat. Miesha had the clear advantage on the ground, while Holly’s advantage was standing up. However, towards the end of the 5th round, Miesha was able to get ahold of Holly’s back, and finished her with a rear-naked choke.
In fact, Holly, who refused to tap out, was actually choked unconscious. It was a fantastic finish by Tate, as she claims the women’s bantamweight belt which has so long eluded her. The question is, what is next for these two fighters? With the word being that Ronda will likely not be ready for UFC 200 in July, it is a very likely possibility that Holm and Tate will rematch at this event. It was a sensational first fight, and I would be more than happy to watch them go at it again.
Now as for the main event, it was, simply put, one of the larger upsets in UFC history. Conor McGregor, who moved up 25 pounds in three months, took on Stockton’s own Nate Diaz in a welterweight match. The first round played out well for Conor, as he landed the majority of the shots, and did some damage to the face of Diaz.
The second round started with more of the same, but something was off with McGregor’s approach. He was putting too much into his strikes, as he was looking for another highlight reel knockout, and appeared to gas himself out midway through the second. Things didn’t help when Diaz landed a clean left hand which stunned Conor, and changed the tone of the fight.
Conor had trouble regaining his footing, and shot for an ill-advised take down. Predictably, Nate stuffed it, took Conor’s back, flattened him out, and finished the fight with a second round choke.
The fight was nothing short of sensational, and one has to give all of the credit in the world to Nate Diaz. He went into an extremely tough environment, on a short camp, and took out the biggest name in MMA in dramatic fashion.
Diaz, who is a veteran of the game, has fought almost everyone worth of noting, but I think it is fair to say this was his greatest victory yet. And for a guy who few believed could win, Diaz showed that, like McGregor, he is not afraid of anyone, and that he is game to fight anybody, anywhere.
Now, there are going to be those who will attack both Conor and Holly, but it is important to remember that these two did not have to take the fights that they did. Holly could have easily waited for a rematch with Rousey later this year, and Conor could have waited for Dos Anjos to recover from his injury. However, this was not the case. Both Conor and Holly put themselves on the line, and in an age where the fans are rarely given super fights, (ie. Canelo Alverez vs. Gennedy Golovkin) these two fighters both showed up and delivered.
So what happens next? Dana White has already stated that he feels Nate Diaz is in line for a title shot against welterweight champion, Robbie Lawlor, and Conor has said that he wants to go back down and defend his featherweight crown.
If Conor is to go down, his opponent will almost certainly be Frankie Edgar, who has been clamoring for a title shot for some time now. This fight will most likely headline the card at UFC 200, which promises to be one the UFC’s biggest shows of all time. Jose Aldo has also thrown his hat into the ring, but with the significance of the injury that Aldo suffered at UFC 194, I feel as if it is best that he takes more time off.
So in the end, Diaz showed us that he is still one of the top guys in the game, and with this win, he has placed himself in the category as one of the greats of our time. Last night’s defeat also poses the question of whether or not this loss hurts McGregor’s legacy. The answer is, of course it does, any loss will do that. What is truly important here is how he bounces back, and only then will we know exactly just what type of fighter McGregor really is.
By Jake Cianci