(Mark J. Rebilas-USA Today Sports)

Fight card and results | TV info | Pre-fight Stories

Nate Diaz upsets Conor McGregor

It’s over. The Irish king has been dethroned.

Heavy favorite Conor McGregor beat Nate Diaz’s face into an unrecognizable pulp as the first round bled into the second, at some points even smiling and taunting Diaz for the lopsided victory that appeared to be coming.

https://twitter.com/GaryTraynor1/status/706357716634247168

But with just under a minute remaining in that second round, McGregor went in for a takedown, and his underdog American opponent countered with an improbable takedown of his own.

Diaz, his bloodied, hunched-over body rendering the gruesome scene like something straight out of “Pulp Fiction,” rained punches on the fallen Dublin native and bounced off the floor with a UFC upset few saw coming. The 30-year-old Stockton, Calif., native, a last-minute fill-in for Rafael dos Anjos, injured two weeks ago, was suddenly the toast of MMA. 

After all the brash talk coming from McGregor this past week, and on the heels of the Irishman’s blistering 15-match win streak, observers were positively stunned to witness a comparatively flabby challenger flip the script on its head. And it showed on social media, even in the wee hours of the morning in some parts of the world.

Miesha Tate tops defending champion Holly Holm


Holly Holm moves in with a punch against Miesha Tate during UFC 196. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

The highly anticipated matchup between defending bantamweight champion Holly Holm and challenger Miesha Tate started off like most of the other fights so far tonight: a bit slow, with both fighters taking the cautious route and keeping their distance.

That changed dramatically 30 seconds into the second round. Tate ducked a left-handed shot, lunged into Holm and executed a takedown that sent chants of “Miesha!” echoing throughout the MGM Grand. Tate kept the 34-year-old “Preacher’s Daughter” on the ground and put her in a chokehold while Holm tried desperately to escape, claiming the second round decisively in her favor.

But Holm bounced back, using her endurance to stay on her feet and stuff Tate’s takedown attempts in the ensuing minutes. That swung the third and fourth rounds in her favor, forcing Tate to ramp up her aggression as the clock dwindled in the fifth and final round.

“I thought I had to be like a pitbull on a bone,” Tate said. “I couldn’t let go.”

That pitbull mentality paid off with 2 minutes 3 seconds remaining, when Tate wrapped Holm up and slammed her to the floor in a stunning takedown. The 29-year-old underdog then locked Holm in a rear naked chokehold and was declared the new champion in the longest women’s bantamweight final ever.

Ilir Latifi earns unanimous decision over Gian Villante 

Still not much to gawk at tonight, but at least Swedish MMA artist Ilir Latifi, aka “The Sledgehammer,” put together a few impressive highlights in his unanimous decision win — 30-27 scores across the board — over Gian Villante in the night’s second light heavyweight bout.

Now onto the main events, starting with top-ranked female bantamweight Holly Holm taking on fellow American Miesha Tate.

Corey Anderson takes unanimous decision over Tom Lawlor

There wasn’t a ton of excitement in this one, as Anderson went the distance to claim a 29-28 and a pair of 30-27s for the unanimous nod in the light heavyweight bout.

Lawlor opened the match with some big shots that sent Anderson scrambling, but the fighter nicknamed “Beastin’ 25/8″ gradually regained his composure and executed a key takedown in the third period that gave him the upper hand.

Amanda Nunes unanimous winner over Valentina Shevchenko


(Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

The first bout of tonight’s main card is in the books. Brazilian Amanda Nunes ended Valentina Shevchenko’s five-match winning streak with a 29-28, 29-27, 29-27 victory by unanimous decision in the women’s bantamweight matchup.

Both competitors maintained a rather cautious approach in the first round before Nunes began imposing her will in the second. A rapid-fire series of elbows cut her Russian opponent open, and Nunes proceeded to beat Shevchenko up from the top position for much of the rest of the round.

Shevchenko battled back and battered Nunes on her feet in the third round, but the Brazilian survived the slog and the two hugged it out as if they just completed a good-natured 5K charity race together.

Arriving in style

Are you ready for the most badass thing you’ve ever seen?

No one has ever accused Conor McGregor of lacking showmanship. From his pre-fight trash talk to his appearances on late-night TV, where he recently almost took Conan O’Brien’s head off with a spin kick, this guy has pizzazz. Which is why it should be no surprise that he snapped a photo of himself “cruising” to Saturday’s fight in a smart getup, then was seen strutting into the arena like Louis XIV entering his chambers.

Meanwhile, his opponent …

Well, there is something to be said about staying relaxed.

He probably wears that sweatshirt to the gym every day, and you have to respect someone who isn’t going to change up his routine just because someone else is maybe making a bigger deal of the whole thing (or, you know, millions of people are tuning in pay-per-view to watch).

Taleb lands vicious knockout blow

Brazilian striker (yes, we’re talking UFC, not futebol) Erick Silva tried a dirty trick on former “Ultimate Fighter” competitor Nordine Taleb in the first round of their fight in the undercard lineup. Taleb responded by knocking him into last week with this piece of savagery:

Silva appeared to be touching gloves with his Canadian opponent as a gesture of good will, but it proved only a fake-out when he turned that into a quick offensive.

Silva caught Taleb off guard but wasn’t able to inflict any damage, and the Vegas crowd booed him heartily for it. In the ensuing round, Taleb looked for a counter shot and landed a vicious right-handed blow that sent Silva into the canvas face first. Then he got down and hit him in the mouth again. You know, for good measure.

Celebrities swarm into the MGM Grand 

There’s a big event happening tonight in Las Vegas and tons of betting money is on the line, so of course Johnny Manziel is in the building. The national guard couldn’t have kept him away from this thing, let alone the prospect of some bad publicity or head-bashing from NFL scouts. (Kidding, sort of.)

More interesting, perhaps, are the other celebrities in the house tonight. Sitting near the embattled quarterback ringside will be newly crowned Oscar winner Leonardo DiCaprio, according to the New York Post. Bruno Mars, Gerard Butler, Gordon Ramsay, Josh Brolin, Reggie Bush, Tyga, T-Boz, Marcedes Lewis, Zac Brown and Danny Elfman are reportedly also there, along with a host of others, as you can see in the above Vine.

Update: Johnny Football showed up wearing this:

You’re welcome, Internet.

The champ is here. The champ is here.

Holly Holm has said since her matchup against Miesha Tate was announced that she was taking this seriously (given that it’s not the Holm-Rousey rematch many hoped for), and nothing appears to have changed based on her expression entering the MGM Grand. Seriously, she looks ready to knock out the first reporter who asked her about a potential upset.

Her opponent, however, seems to be enjoying the experience, despite going up against “The Preacher’s Daughter” who beat unbeatable Ronda Rousey back in November.

But perhaps the smiles are the result of facing off against Holm and not Rousey, whom she has lost to twice before.

“It’s kind of refreshing to not have this be against Ronda and have to go through all the drama,” Tate said earlier this week.

Fight card and results:

Main card (10 p.m. ET)

Main event: Conor McGregor vs. Nate Diaz (Welterweight)

Result: Diaz def. McGregor via submission (rear-naked choke) — Round 2, 4:12

Co-main event: Holly Holm vs. Miesha Tate (Women’s bantamweight)

Result: Tate def. Holm via technical submission (rear-naked choke) — Round 5, 3:30

Gian Villante vs. Ilir Latifi (Light heavyweight)

Result: Latifi def. Villante via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Corey Anderson vs. Tom Lawlor (Light heavyweight)

Result: Anderson def. Lawlor via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)

Amanda Nunes vs. Valentina Shevchenko (Women’s bantamweight)

Result: Nunes def. Shevchenko via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-27, 29-27)

Undercard (8 p.m.)

Brandon Thatch vs. Siyar Bahadurzada (Welterweight)

Result: Bahadurzada def. Thatch via submission (arm-triangle choke) — Round 3, 4:11

Erick Silva vs. Nordine Taleb (Welterweight)

Result: Taleb def. Silva knockout (punches) — Round 2, 1:34

Vitor Miranda vs. Marcelo Guimaraes (Middleweight)

Result: Miranda def. Guimaraes via TKO (strikes) — Round 2, 1:09

Darren Elkins vs. Chas Skelly (Featherweight)

Result: Elkins def. Skelly via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-27, 30-26)

Diego Sanchez vs. Jim Miller (Lightweight)

Result: Sanchez def. Miller via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

Justin Salas vs. Jason Saggo (Lightweight)

Result: Saggo def. Salas via TKO (punches) — Round 1, 4:31

Julian Erosa vs. Teruto Ishihara (Featherweight)

Result: Ishihara def. Julian Erosa via knockout (punches) — Round 2, 0:34

Information:

What: UFC 196
When: Saturday, March 5; 6:30 p.m. ET
Where: MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas
Watch: Cable/Satellite – PPV; webcast – PPV on UFC.tvFight Pass on UFC.tvPPV on YouTube

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