Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) broke records last night (Sat., March 5,, 2016), as fans around the world were treated to a legendary pay-per-view (PPV) event from inside the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada, featuring two epic headlining bouts that will go down in the history books.
In the main event of the evening, Nate Diaz pulled off a colossal upset, derailing Conor McGregor's massive hype train by submitting the Featherweight Champion in the second round (highlights here). On just 11 days notice, the Stockton bad boy put on his best career performance, defeating UFC's golden goose, and earning the fattest check of his life.
In the co-main event, Miesha Tate became the UFC Women's Bantamweight Champion of the world via a surreal comeback submission victory late in the fifth round against the reigning title holder Holly Holm.
Watch the incredible video highlights from UFC 196 last night!
SMOKED AND CHOKED!
Watch Nate Diaz mangle, then strangle, Conor McGregor last night in the short-notice UFC 196 Welterweight main event, sending the Featherweight champion back to the 145-pound division after a shocking second round submission finish.
Watch the incredible video highlights from UFC 196 last night!
Biggest Winners: Miesha Tate
Miesha Tate has long exuded the heart of a champion, but at UFC 196, she finally earned the Women's Bantamweight title.
In nearly every "Cupcake" fight, she finds herself down on the scorecards or facing adversity, only to turn it around late and find a way to win.
In her illustrious 23-fight career, Tate never quite pulled off a comeback as sublime as her rear-naked choke finish against Holly Holm in the fifth round of their epic title fight.
And it couldn't have come at a better time.
The former Strikeforce champ was calm and measured throughout the five round affair, picking her shots and staying just out of range of Holm's most dangerous strikes.
Still, Tate's game plan had her down on the scorecards (see it here) going into the final round, and she knew she had to finish Holm in order to be crowned a champion.
The finishing sequence will undoubtedly go down in history as one of the greatest of all time, with Tate lunging in for a takedown with just under two minutes to go, scrambling to take Holm's back before locking in the fight-ending choke with just 90 seconds left in the final frame.
That's the true grit of a UFC champion.
Way to shock the world Nate Diaz.
Following his impressive victory at UFC on FOX 17 in Orlando, Diaz boldly called out Featherweight Champion Conor McGregor, running off a legendary expletive riddled rant about "The Notorious" one.
At the time, the bout seemed unlikely.
As luck would have it though, Diaz found himself gifted a unique opportunity; He got the fight he wanted, but it would come on only 11 days notice.
Without time for a true training camp, the cards seemed to be stacked against the Stockton bad boy.
But on fight night, the grizzled veteran pulled off a sensational performance, weathering the early storm from the Irishman before hurting him in the second round and schooling him on the mat en route to the fight ending rear-naked choke.
The finish was Diaz's 15th UFC victory, and undoubtedly his biggest to date.
Some will argue that Diaz threw a wrench in UFC brass' plans moving forward by dethroning McGregor, but Stockton's favorite son had his very own resolution to that problem.
"There is a new king in this mother f*cker now, and he's right here!"
Would you believe me if I told you Vitor Miranda is currently tied No. 1 for the longest active UFC knockout streak?
With Conor McGregor's five-fight knockout streak being broken at UFC 196, Miranda moved into first place following his third straight TKO finish over Marcelo Guimarães.
The win will likely skyrocket the Brazilian up the Middleweight ladder, and the 36-year old deserves a crack at a ranked opponent next.
With a thrilling striking arsenal and a penchant for violently finishing fights, you have to wonder when UFC brass will finally give "Lex Luthor" a promotional push.
Maybe a co-main event in Brazil is next for Miranda?
Biggest Losers: Conor McGregor
Did Icarus fly too close to the sun?
Conor McGregor promised to take the game over when he made his UFC debut in 2013, and every single one of his audacious claims came true prior to UFC 196.
"The Notorious" tore through the Featherweight division, annihilated the legendary Jose Aldo in just 13 seconds to become the 145-pound champ, and quickly became the face of UFC.
Nobody in the sport had ever gone from prospect to champ to superstar in such a short time, and McGregor's fall from grace will undoubtedly be a tough pill to swallow for the 145-pound king.
The loss to Diaz should put an end to McGregor's title hopes at 155 pounds for now, as "The Notorious" will need to reclaim his glory by defending his Featherweight strap next.
It is hard to kick McGregor while he is down though, considering his bold attempts to take his career and this sport to places it has never been.
Attempting to move up to the Lightweight division to challenge Rafael Dos Anjos is nothing to scoff at, and even more impressive is taking a Welterweight fight on only 11 days notice against a very dangerous and skilled opponent in Nate Diaz.
Make no mistake, UFC 196 would have been in shambles had McGregor not opted to take the Diaz fight following RDA's injury. But for his fans, and for his own pride, he took a risk and it cost him his undefeated UFC record.
McGregor will definitely take a licking from the fans, but you have to expect the Irishman will land on his feet, and prove once again he is undoubtedly one of the biggest stars in the sport today.
Now it is Frankie Edgar's turn to take a crack at "The Notorious."
Holly Holm didn't want to be a one-hit wonder after her spectacular knockout victory over Ronda Rousey at UFC 193, so her humbling defeat to Miesha Tate will certainly be a bitter pill to swallow.
"The Preacher's Daughter" looked well on her way to defending her title via decision after a very impressive performance through five rounds.
Prior to the finish, Holm faced adversity only one other time during the fight. After Tate landed an early takedown in the second round, Holm ate some hard ground and pound before nearly getting submitted by the very choke that ultimately did her in later on.
The UFC champ valiantly fought through Tate's submission attempt, and proved she would be no easy out for the challenger.
For the remaining 15 or so minutes, Holm strategically controlled the pace with her striking from the outside, but Tate's hail mary takedown and submission in the waning moments ultimately marked the end of Holm's brief championship run.
Even with a tough loss, Holm has proven to be one of the very best Women's Bantamweights on this planet, and I wouldn't be shocked to see her fighting for the title again in 2016.
The Rest Of The PPV
Talk about limping to the finish line.
Fight fans were wary of the UFC 196 PPV card outside the co-main and main event, and for good reason.
Two fights featuring four middling Light Heavyweights, and a Women's Bantamweight contender fight that severely underwhelmed left fans praying for Holly Holm and Miesha Tate to save the PPV.
Thankfully, the final two fights delivered in every possible way.
The PPV kicked off with Amanda Nunes earning an uninspiring decision against Valentina Shevchenko. "The Lioness" was hoping to earn a title shot with an impressive victory, but her dull outing will likely send her back to the "Prelims" for her next fight.
The action hardly picked up in the second bout of the PPV, as Tom Lawlor and Corey Anderson battled it out in a forgetful Light Heavyweight contest. The only eye-opening moment of the fight was when Bruce Buffer read the judges' scorecards, as they somehow gave Anderson 30-27 scores even following a first round he clearly lost.
As for Gian Villante vs. Ilir Latifi? That fight was absolute garbage.
There really is nothing else that needs to be said about that 205-pound affair.
UFC brass may want to rethink their strategy for upcoming PPV's, because had Miesha Tate and Nate Diaz not saved UFC 196, this event could have truly been a disaster.
For complete results from UFC 196: "McGregor vs. Diaz," including play-by-play updates click here.