McGregor’s victory wasn’t splashy, but incremental. The 27-year-old slowly and surely chipped away at his opponent with repeated kicks to Diaz’s right leg, which seriously hampered the 31-year-old’s ability to move by the later rounds. And while Diaz (19-11 MMA, 14-9 UFC) got in more strikes than McGregor (20-3 MMA, 8-1 UFC) , McGregor’s punches arguably landed more squarely, bloodying his opponent’s face to the point of nearly blinding him.
McGregor, meanwhile, entered new territory, fighting past a third round for the first time in his UFC career.
McGregor defied his critics, including many of his fellow UFC fighters, who predicted he’d lose again to Diaz. McGregor, who rarely lets anyone get away with talking about him, had some words for his doubters after he won.
“Surprise, surprise, [expletive], the king is back!” McGregor shouted after the win.
The tension in the Octagon was evident from the moment the fighters stepped into the arena. It had been just three days since a pre-fight press conference ended in the fighters throwing bottles at each other. On Saturday, extra security guards filled the Octagon just to keep the fighters away from each other. And no, they didn’t touch gloves before the fight.
But during the fight, it appears a kernel of mutual respect may have budded. The two fighters ended the brawl looking almost like friends, even helping each other up after the bell rang and almost, almost hugging.
Diaz accepted the decision, but disagreed with it. He said he thought he should have won and argued that he didn’t because he’s “too real” for the UFC, a sentiment he’s expressed before. Despite his skepticism about the promotion, Diaz appears to want to stick with it. He even suggested he and McGregor meet for a third match-up.
McGregor said sure, but he wants to do it at 155 pounds.
Anyway, here’s how the rest of the card shook out.
Anthony Johnson def. Glover Teixeira via KO in Round 1 (0:13)
With current light heavyweight champions Daniel Cormier watching cageside, Anthony Johnson (22-5 MMA, 13-5 UFC) took no time to beat Glover Teixeira (25-5 MMA, 8-3 UFC). With a single right uppercut, Johnson sent Teixeira to the ground 13 seconds into the first round, who upon coming to, tried to wrestle with the referee. It was actually pretty frightening. Johnson, who’s nicknamed “Rumble,” will now get a chance for the belt against Cormier.
“Daniel, you the man, baby, but I’m coming for you,” Johnson said after the fight. “We gonna get it on.”
Oh, hi, Kanye West!
Donald Cerrone def. Rick Story via TKO (punches) in Round 2 (2:02)
Fan favorite Donald Cerrone (31-7 MMA, 18-4 UFC) pulled out a Mortal Combat-esque finish sequence to end the fight against Rick Story (19-9 MMA, 12-7 UFC) midway through the second round. A punch to the face was followed by a low jab, which caused Story to nearly fall down. Cerrone didn’t stop there, though. He delivered a kick to his opponent to close the book on this fight. Once again, Cerrone proves he’s doing great as a welterweight, but he’s not done with the 155-pound division, he said. After the fight, he said he wants to meet Eddie Alvarez at Madison Square Garden, aka UFC 205 on Nov. 6, which is already being heavily promoted.
Mike Perry def. Hyun Gyu Lim via TKO (punches) in Round 1 (3:38)
Despite a six-inch reach disadvantage, Mike Perry (7-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) made his UFC debut memorable by doing what he’s been doing his whole MMA career — knocking dudes out. Perry used both hands to land heavy strikes on Hyun Gyu Lim (13-6-1 MMA, 3-3 UFC), his more experienced opponent, and got him to the ground more than once to land additional heavy blows. No surprise, the 24-year-old gave a shout out to Mike Tyson after he won.
Meanwhile, the crowd greeted Dwight Howard with a bunch of boos.
Tim Means def. Sabah Homasi by TKO in Round 2 (2:56)
After entering the arena a little cocky, singing the lyrics to Eminem’s “Without Me,” welterweight Sabah Homasi’s UFC debut went downhill fast. A tough first round left the 27-year-old “Ultimate Fighter” alum (11-6 MMA, 0-1 UFC) bloodied, bruised and practically panting for air. Means, meanwhile, looked like he was just sparring in the gym. It didn’t take long for the 32-year-old to take advantage of his opponent’s lack of experience and midway through the second round, the man nicknamed “The Dirty Bird” (26-7-1 MMA, 8-4 UFC) got the win when referee Herb Dean stopped the fight.
Meanwhile, Flava Flav, Mike Tyson, Fez and Chef Gordon Ramsay are in the building.
Bantamweight Cody Garbrandt def. Takeya Mizugaki by TKO (punches) in Round 1 (0:48)
Women’s bantamweight Raquel Pennington def. Elizabeth Phillips via unanimous decision (30-27 across the board)
Featherweight Artem Lobov def. Chris Avila via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Strawweight Cortney Casey beats Randa Markos with armbar submission in Round 1 (4:34)
Early prelims results
Welterweight Lorenz Larkin def. Neil Magney via TKO (elbows) in Round 1 (4:08)
Light heavyweight Colby Covington def. Forrest Griffin via TKO (punches) in Round 2 (2:18)
Middleweight Marvin Vettori def. Alberto Uda with head-and-arm guillotine submission in Round 1 (4:30)