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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.

Darren Till favored against Tyron Woodley on UFC 228 odds

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Simply put, Darren Till has exhibited more pathways to victory lately than Tyron Woodley, which is why it’s not a surprise to see a UFC champion listed as an underdog.

Till has shifted to being the -140 favorite on the UFC 228 odds with welterweight champion Woodley coming back at +110 in the co-main event for Saturday, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The card takes place at American Airlines Center in Dallas.

Till is 17-0-1 in his career with 10 victories by knockout or TKO, and has shown he can win by counter-attacking with his kickboxing or by forcing the issue and using his reach, as he did during an October 2017 win against Donald Cerrone.

Woodley, whose last three bouts have all gone the full five rounds, has fallen back on a safe approach during his most recent posts, trying to control the pace and set up his powerful overhand right. Staying in his comfort zone against Till might prove easier said than done.

In the co-main event, Valentina Shevchenko (-1400) offers little value as an overwhelming UFC 228 betting favorite against women’s flyweight title-holder Nicco Montano (+750).

Shevchenko is thriving now that the creation of a flyweight division means she can pick on people her own size, instead  of spotting size to bantamweights. While underdogs have won 35 percent of fights in the UFC in 2018, Montano’s so-so takedown defense (50 per cent to Shevchenko’s 55%) recommends looking elsewhere for someone to take at plus money.

Coming into their women’s strawweight match, Jessica Andrade (-450) is on a run of four fights in a row going to a decision, while Karolina Kowalkiewicz (+325) has had eight of her last nine end up in the judges’ hands. Andrade is the higher-volume fighter and that might put her in good stead if this bout also goes the distance

Welterweights Abdul Razak Alhassan (-145) and Niko Price (+115) are each knockout artists, with the former having all nine of his wins via first-round knockouts or TKOs. Trusting in Alhassan’s power and strength is understandable, but Price is the somewhat more multi-dimensional fighter with his jiu-jitsu grappling background and that could help him pull the mild upset.

Rising featherweight contender Zabit Magomedsharipov (-1400) takes on Brandon Davis (+750), who is an injury substitution on the card. The Achilles heel for Davis is his wrestling defense and that could literally play into the hands of the aggressive Magomedsharipov, who has finished two of his three most recent victories by submissions in the second round.

Meantime, light heavyweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov (-170) is an early favorite on the UFC 229 Khabib vs. McGregor odds against Conor McGregor (+140), with that card scheduled for October 6 at T-Mobile Arena.

On form, Nurmagomedov is the grappler with the edge in cardio over the striker McGregor, who hasn’t stepped inside the Octagon in nearly two years. However, with McGregor’s capabilities and his savvy at psychological warfare, he offers great value as an underdog.

For more odds information, betting picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes or listen to it at OddsShark.libsyn.com.

Conor is back: UFC says McGregor will fight Oct. 6 in Vegas

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Conor McGregor will return to mixed martial arts on Oct. 6 in Las Vegas with a bout against UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov.

The UFC dramatically announced the matchup Friday to close a news conference promoting the slate of fight cards for the rest of 2018.

McGregor won the featherweight and lightweight championships during his meteoric MMA career, but he hasn’t fought in the UFC since taking the lightweight belt from Eddie Alvarez in November 2016.

McGregor hasn’t competed at all since losing his incredibly lucrative boxing match against Floyd Mayweather in August 2017.

McGregor also has resolved his legal troubles after throwing a hand truck at a bus containing UFC fighters last April. Nurmagomedov was the intended target of his misbehavior after a previous spat between the fighters’ camps.