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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.

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.

Ronda Rousey slight favorite against Amanda Nunes at UFC 207

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Betting lines can be influenced by popularity, which is important to keep in mind when looking at the women’s bantamweight title bout between Ronda Rousey and Amanda Nunes that will be the culmination of UFC 207 on Friday in Las Vegas.

Rousey is the -140 betting favorite with Nunes nominally the underdog at +110, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. Rousey is fighting for the first time since losing her title to Holly Holm in November 2015, while Nunes is making her first defense since her victory by submission against Miesha Tate in July.

Since she has been away for so long, Rousey is a bit of a blank slate, but during her title reign she had the knack for using her judo background to get a fight to the mat. That might give her a shot at nullifying some of Nunes’ punching power and forcing the champion, whose cardio is below-average, to burn energy getting out of clinches and back on her feet. Of the two, Nunes is the more powerful puncher.

Dominick Cruz is a -225 favorite on the UFC 207 odds in his bantamweight title defense bout against underdog Cody Garbrandt (+175). One case for the challenger is that Garbrandt, who is undefeated in the UFC, averages more significant strikes per minute than Cruz, and hits at a higher percentage. His quick-strike power gives him a chance to get the win, but the unknown variable is his stamina. Cruz has shown throughout his career than he can elude heavy punchers and allow his stamina to carry the day.

T.J. Dillashaw is listed at -240 in his bantamweight bout against John Lineker (+190). Dillashaw’s propensity to strike early and frequently, along with being sounder technically than Lineker, makes him the clear favorite. Lineker’s brawling style makes him entertaining to watch, but he’s not efficient in his striking and that can land a fighter in trouble if he is unable to land a knockout.

Dong Hyun Kim is a -145 favorite against Tarec Saffiedine (+115) in a welterweight match that was moved to the main card after Cain Velasquez was scratched from his showdown with Fabricio Werdum. Kim, who has won six of his seven fights with the lone defeat coming against Tyron Woodley, has been able to handle any opponent who is isn’t elite. Saffiedine has dropped two of his last three fights and, from a betting perspective, doesn’t offer great value as an underdog.

And in a late add to the main card, Ray Borg is a slight -135 betting favorite against Louis Smolka (+110) in a flyweight bout. Borg is the savvier grappler of the two whereas Smolka has greater reach and striking ability. Smolka’s defense might not be strong enough to prevent Borg from turning this into a fight that is contested mostly on the mat.