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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.

Stipe Miocic makes first title defense as betting favorite at UFC 203

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Stipe Miocic is the betting favorite against challenger Alistair Overeem in the heavyweight title fight that will cap UFC 203, which is in the fighter’s hometown on Saturday.

The specter of losing the strap, and face, is a powerful motivator for Miocic heading into the showdown at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland on Saturday. Miocic is listed at odds of -145 for a victory in the five-round bout, with Overeem rating a good chance at +115.

It might be tougher to keep a title than earn it in the heavyweight division, but Miocic has evolved from freestyle wrestling background into a hybrid of grappler and disciplined boxer who keeps his guard up.

Overeem has potential to knock out almost any opponent, but the chances to land a massive strike could be farther and fewer between than usual against Miocic, who is a good striker in his own right. Miocic is also generally considered the stronger wrestler of the two.

Also on the main card, Fabricio Werdum, who lost the heavyweight title to Miocic at UFC 198 in May, is a -225 favorite against +175 underdog Travis Browne on the UFC 203 betting lines.

Werdum won a unanimous decision against Browne when they last tangled in April 2014 in spite of spotting him three inches in height. Losing in May should have been a prod for Werdum to brush up on his technique. Browne has split four TKO decisions since that bout 3½ years ago.

Former WWE champion CM Punk is a +300 underdog in his UFC debut against Mickey Gall, who is a -400 favorite entering their welterweight match. It has taken 21 months since the time he signed with UFC to get CM Punk into a ring, and it’s hard to imagine the UFC would give him an opponent whose style would pose problems.

Bantamweight contender Jimmie Rivera is listed at -125 against 37-year-old mainstay Urijah Faber, who is a slight underdog at -105. The 27-year-old Rivera is Faber’s junior by a decade. Over their careers, Faber has been more reliable at earning submissions and at defending against submission attempts. Rivera’s punching power and the fact that he’s on the way up whereas Faber has plateaued make him a tempting play.

Jessica Andrade is a -145 favorite against -115 underdog Joanne Calderwood in the women’s strawweight matchup that opens the UFC 203 main card. Andrade has the greater knockout capability, while Calderwood possesses more stamina.

Calderwood got a lesson in weathering an early onslaught in a 2015 fight against Cortney Casey when she was nearly dispatched early before eventually winning. Learning from that experience could come in handy against Andrade.

Conor McGregor favored to defeat Nate Diaz at UFC 202 despite earlier loss

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Since their rematch was rescheduled, Conor McGregor has shifted from being the slight underdog at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com to being the favorite against Nate Diaz, who handed him his first UFC loss in March.

Ahead of their welterweight bout at UFC 202, which takes place Saturday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, McGregor is listed at -130 to get the win while Diaz rates an even-money shot. Initially, Diaz was the -125 favorite.

McGregor has focused his training on building up his cardiovascular capacity, since a fight against Diaz always has a high likelihood of going the distance. McGregor clearly stands to lose more face with a loss, but bettors should also recall that Diaz was able to win their first showdown after taking the bout on only 10 days’ notice.

Diaz, with his Jiu-Jitsu background, has the capability of forcing the match to ground and grappling, which will force McGregor to divert energy he would prefer to use attacking.

In the co-main event, Anthony (Rumble) Johnson is listed at -200 on the UFC 202 betting lines to defeat Glover Teixeira, who is listed at +160, in a matchup of light heavyweight strikers. It’s a tough matchup for Teixeira, who tends to be willing to trade punches, which is highly unlikely to work against  someone with Johnson’s power.

Teixeira’s chances likely rest on making sure he can use his grappling ability. The winner will take a big jump in the light heavyweight rankings.

In a featured welterweight matchup, Donald Cerrone is listed at -250 against +195 underdog Rick Story. In his last fight, Cerrone, with his reach and Muay Thai background, did what some considered impossible when he became the first fighter to defeat Patrick Côté by TKO. Story is also very durable and has a chance to win ugly.

Also on the main card, welterweight contender Hyun Gyu Lim is listed at -285 against +225 underdog Mike Perry, who is making his debut in UFC. Both are knockout specialists, so Perry has the quintessential puncher’s chance at an upset.

Lim is a physical force, but has shown that he will lower his guard to attack, which makes this matchup a more dangerous one than it might initially appear to be.

The biggest favorite on the card is Tim Means, who is -450 to defeat +325 underdog Sabah Homasi. Means is motivated after a six-month fight to win reinstatement after a positive drug test, and Homasi is stepping in with only two weeks’ preparation.