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UFC 196: Diaz beats McGregor via submission; Tate takes title from Holm

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LAS VEGAS (AP) — Nate Diaz beat Conor McGregor by submission with 48 seconds left in the second round Saturday night for the second spectacular upset of UFC 196.

Miesha Tate also won the UFC bantamweight title at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, finishing Holly Holm in a rear naked choke with 90 seconds left in the fifth round.

Diaz (20-10) was battered and bloodied for the first 1 1/2 rounds by McGregor (19-3), the UFC 145-pound featherweight champion and pay-per-view star fighting at 170 pounds.

Diaz, who took the fight on less than two weeks’ notice, abruptly changed the bout with an electric series of punches before forcing McGregor to tap out on the ground.

“I thought I landed with some good punches that got him off (his game),” Diaz said in one of his few post-fight comments not punctuated by exuberant profanity. “I started off slow, but I’m faster than anyone later on. My jiu-jitsu is always there for me.”

Earlier, Tate (18-5) became the third 135-pound champion in UFC history by beating Holm (10-1), the woman who knocked out Ronda Rousey in November. Holm appeared to be unconscious when Tate finally released her from the choke to celebrate.

“Not many people wouldn’t tap out,” Tate said. “She went out like a champion.”

The main event was the greatest moment in the career of Diaz, a pugnacious veteran from a notorious fighting family in Stockton, California. Diaz had lost three of his past five fights and was just 5-5 since 2010, but his size and power abruptly finished McGregor, who had boasted of his plans to hold championships in multiple weight classes.

The loss ended McGregor’s 15-fight winning streak since November 2010 and put a blemish on the loquacious Irish face of the UFC.

“These things happen,” McGregor said. “I learn, I grow. I’ll face it like a man, like a champion.”

McGregor is still the UFC’s 145-pound champion, but he agreed to fight Diaz at the welterweight limit less than two weeks ago when 155-pound lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos dropped out of his matchup with McGregor due to a foot injury.

McGregor set a new UFC record with his $1 million disclosed purse for this fight, but that’s only a portion of the wealth bestowed on a champion who gets a percentage of pay-per-view sales and other undisclosed bonuses. He expected a comfortable win over Diaz, comparing the veteran to a gazelle about to be eaten by a lion.

Instead, McGregor got bit.

“I felt good in the first round, but I was inefficient,” McGregor said. “He was efficient. I wasn’t. I took a chance. It didn’t work out.”

The penultimate fight at UFC 196 was a thrilling clash of styles, and Tate fought until the waning minutes before finally using her superior ground game to outstanding effect.

“I feel like we had a great game plan,” Tate said. “I had to be patient. She’s very dangerous. She’s capable of catching anyone at any moment. She’s a very calculated fighter.”

Holm appeared to be winning her first fight since she dethroned Rousey with a stunning head-kick knockout in one of the sport’s biggest upsets.

Although Tate controlled the second round on the ground, Holm picked apart Tate with punches for the other three rounds before the fifth. Tate knew her advantages were on the ground, so she tried multiple takedown attempts that were defended well by Holm.

Everything changed when Tate finally landed a desperate takedown attempt and got Holm’s back with 2 minutes left.

Holm fought desperately to get out, but the veteran wrestler sunk in a choke that eventually left Holm apparently unconscious. Tate let go when she felt Holm go limp.

Tate was overwhelmed after finally reaching her longtime goal. She lost twice to Rousey earlier in her career, but hasn’t lost a fight since 2013.

Holm reveled in a publicity tour and a rally of 20,000 fans in her native Albuquerque after her win over Rousey, but the new champ decided not to wait while mixed martial arts’ most famous fighter regrouped for their rematch. Holm agreed to take on Tate, the very definition of a dangerous matchup for less experienced fighters.

The UFC’s plans for an incredibly lucrative rematch between Holm and Rousey just got complicated.

UFC 2010 odds: Cormier slight underdog vs. Johnson on betting lines

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The notion that a knockout artist is generally more appealing than a wrestler in the UFC might play into the shifting odds for the co-main event for UFC 210.

Although he lost in their first light heavyweight title bout, Anthony (Rumble) Johnson has shifted to being the -125 favorite against -105 slight underdog Daniel Cormier, the reigning champion, at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. Their rematch will cap off the card  at KeyBank Center in Buffalo, New York on Saturday.

Cormier opened as a -120 favorite with Johnson at -110, but the latter, as one of the hardest hitters in the Octagon, constitutes the classic irresistible force. Johnson only needs one great shot to decide a fight and the law of averages would dictate that the more he sees of Cormier, the better his chance to land it.

That said, Cormier can get the fight to the mat and to the cage and force Johnson to expend a great amount of his energy getting free.

The co-main event is a veritable toss-up, with Gegard Mousasi listed at -120 on the UFC 210 betting lines against ex-middleweight champ Chris Weidman, who has a price of -110. The lines might be a bit reputation-based, but Mousasi has won four consecutive fights whereas Weidman has lost his last two. Mousasi also has a methodical approach that should serve to keep him out of trouble against Weidman, who in both of his losses fatigued when he wasn’t able to dominate early.

Welterweight Patrick Côté is a -160 favorite against +130 underdog Thiago Alves, who’s something of an enigma due to a 17-month layoff. Both prefer the standup game, but the match might turn on who uses his wrestling effectively, and that’s more likely to be the bigger Côté. Alves, at age 33, still has the speed to deliver devastating kicks.

Coming off a loss in his last bout, lightweight Will Brooks is a -240 favorite against +190 underdog Charles Oliveira. While Oliveira’s failures to make weight as a featherweight are well documented, Brooks has had the strength to go up a weight class to welterweight. The favorite should have a wrestling and strength advantage that will serve to negate the aggression of Oliviera, who is a good striker.

Women’s strawweight grappler Cynthia Calvillo is a -270 favorite against +210 underdog Pearl Gonzalez, who is making her UFC debut. Calvillo, who also won at UFC 209, is a rising prospect who has finished three of her four opponents by submission since turning pro. The 30-year-old Gonzalez’s best qualities are her wrestling and submission game. With Calvillo’s relative inexperience, this bout has upset potential.

Through the first three months of the year, there were 27 underdog victories in 87 UFC bouts, or 31 percent, according to OddsShark.com. Underdogs won at a 36.8 percent rate in 2016 and 38.5 percent in 2017, so one should expect the current rate to rise over the course of the year.

Odds lean toward Thompson against Woodley for Saturday’s UFC 209 card

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The odds for the rematch reflect popular consensus that Stephen Thompson outfought Tyronn Woodley when they first met for the UFC welterweight championship.

Thompson, the challenger, is the -160 betting favorite against +130 strap-holder Woodley in the co-main event for UFC 209: Woodley vs. Thompson 2 at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The two will meet for the second time in fewer than four months when they step into the Octagon at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday.

In their first fight, Thompson was able to dictate terms and Woodley often ceded control of the Octagon, which gave Thompson time and space to connect with kicks and strikes. One could theorize that three and a half months of analyzing that fight has helped Thompson figure out how to maintain that advantage while upgrading his defense.

That said, Woodley is stronger in cinches and at grappling – when he chooses to use those skills. His patience and strength could help him drag the fight out and pick spots to land his big overhand right.

Elsewhere, Khalid Nurmagomedov is a -190 favorite against +155 underdog Tony Ferguson, as they square off for the interim lightweight title in the co-main event.

Nurmagomedov’s 24-0 career record might give bettors pause about picking against him, but this is the first time he has ever faced a five-round bout and Ferguson might be the more tireless fighter. Ferguson, with his six-inch edge in reach, should have the advantage in stand-up situations.

Rashad Evans is the -230 favorite against +180 underdog Daniel Kelly on the UFC 209 betting lines in a matchup of mirror-image middleweights, as each relies on wearing down opponents. The bout is unlikely to end early and Kelly tends to get stronger as a match goes on as he gains a feel for his opponent’s tendencies.

It’s something of a toss-up, although some bettors might shy away from Evans in his debut at 185 pounds and go with Kelly strictly on betting value.

Alistair Overeem is listed at -145 against +115 slight underdog Mark Hunt in a heavyweight bout. Overeem, who will have something to prove after losing his last bout against Stipe Miocic in September, has a multi-faceted repertoire and can punish opponents when he gets them into clinches.

Hunt is a strong counter-puncher who comes into this matchup with greater knockout capability, but Overeem’s edge in grappling makes him a solid chalk pick.

And in a lightweight bout, Lando Vannata is a -270 favorite against +210 underdog David Teymur. Vannata is more of a striker, while Teymur, with his background in Muay Tuai, is more of a kickboxer.

A win would validate why Vannata thus far has made a rapid ascension through the lightweight division, but Teymur will get his chance to land some devastating kicks. He’s also a left-hander, which can sometimes be a difficult matchup. There is upset potential here.