What a fight. WHAT A FIGHT. Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz gave us a thriller in March, and they gave us something even better than that tonight. I didn't think Robbie Lawler vs. Carlos Condit could be topped as 2016's Fight of the Year, but Diaz vs. McGregor 2 probably is the new leader in the clubhouse in a year filled with unbelievably enthralling bouts.
I thought that Conor McGregor was finished after the way round 2 ended. He knocked Diaz down 3 times in the first 7-8 minutes, but the gas tank looked to be on empty and Diaz was pouring on the pressure. I thought for sure that McGregor was done at the end of round 3 when he was just about out on his feet. There was a brief moment where it looked like McGregor would be standing TKO'd. That didn't happen.
Conor McGregor's 4th round is the single greatest thing he's done in his UFC career. He was on his way to 0-2 against Diaz and he dug deep, found that extra bit of quality, and assured himself a lead heading into round 5. Diaz clearly won the 5th as a spent Conor kept staring at the clock, but the job was done in round 4. It was either a draw (which is how I scored it, with a 10-8 3rd round for Diaz) or a McGregor win 48-47. Can't see an argument for Diaz getting the 2nd round even though he finished well. He still got decked twice and his leg was getting peppered. I don't think there's any robbery call to be had here, folks.
Bravo to both men. Bravo. This was a big money fight and it provided us with excitement and high drama from start to finish.
More thoughts on tonight's show:
- We witnessed something special tonight, and even if there is a trilogy, whether at 170 or 155, this fight will be hard to duplicate. That said, McGregor vs. Aldo 2 better happen next, because that's the other side story here. McGregor still has a belt to defend (or relinquish by not defending it) and I want to see Conor rematch Aldo. You're lying if you say that fight doesn't do much for you.
- McGregor really worked the leg kicks and body shots to full effect. It opened the door for him to score with those big left hands that dropped Diaz multiple times over. The end result was still very nearly a defeat, but I felt the strategy going into the bout was well done.
- I don't want to make this too wordy because I'm mentally spent, but Nate Diaz is one of the toughest human beings to ever grace this planet. He can still hang his hat on having finished McGregor while McGregor failed to finish him, and I'm sure his fans (and people who despise Conor) will say the same, too. Tonight? I don't give a damn. I just watched one of the greatest MMA fights ever.
- The UFC offered up a really nice video package for Diaz vs. McGregor 2 in the PPV intro, which bumped off Face the Pain for at least tonight. I hope it's permanent, or at a minimum the UFC does this sort of thing for its really big events.
- Anthony Johnson demolished Glover Teixeira with an uppercut from hell. Teixeira resorted to grappling Dan Miragliotta after the fight was waived off. Rumble is absurdly powerful and I can't even put it into words. You've seen him fight. He punches guys in the face and they fall down. Some get back up, most of them go to sleep. Time for Cormier vs. Rumble Act II.
- Hot damn! Wasn't Donald Cerrone just fantastic? Rick Story is absurdly tough but he got handled. Cerrone's striking was outstanding. His combination to finish Story, who'd previously never been KO or TKO'd, was otherworldly. Cerrone's a free agent, but surely he'll stay in the UFC, and if he wants to return to 155 and fight Eddie Alvarez, who am I to not be interested in that? I'd prefer to see him at 170 but he IS the only guy to beat Alvarez in the UFC.
- Hyun Gyu Lim's lack of striking defense was, in hindsight, a bad thing to have against someone who hits hard like Mike Perry. Three knockdowns, with the last one forcing John McCarthy to end the fight, gave Perry a win in his UFC debut (and on short notice!). Someone was going to get KO'd and it was Lim.
- Sabah Homasi is tough as nails but he was just horrifically mauled by Tim Means, back from his USADA suspension after his tainted supplement case. Means was terrific, Homasi had no answer for the body shots and the pressure and the array of strikes that Means delivered to his bloodied face and bruised body.
- During Means' 6 month ban, he was working a 9-to-5 welding job for $9 per hour. I hope that he gets back into the Octagon ASAP because he lost quite a bit of money because of his suspension.
- Pretty sure Mike Goldberg was under the weather, because his voice was just not there tonight. Very hoarse in his commentary, was Mike Goldberg.
- Cody Garbrandt starched Takeya Mizugaki and probably knocked him out 3 different times in 50 seconds. His hands are lethal and his power is special. Time for another step up in competition (paging Caraway?).
- ...Cody called out Dominick Cruz (as he's been doing for weeks) with the line, "I will show you who your daddy is for real..." Not everyone can be a great trash talker and a great fighter at the same time, I suppose.
- Raquel Pennington got a shutout win over Elizabeth Phillips through her takedowns and clinch striking, particularly the knees to the body. It wasn't exciting but it was effective, and she's won 3 in a row.
- Artem Lobov beat up Chris Avila, who was just about devoid of offense, leg kick defense, and a gameplan. That fight reeked and I'd love to know who was intrigued because it was Team Diaz vs. Team McGregor. Anyway, we move on.
- Cortney Casey impressively armbarred Randa Markos to notch the biggest win of her career. Markos' decision to leave Tristar doesn't seem to be paying off, whereas Casey has offset her 0-2 start with consecutive 1st round stoppages over Cristina Stanciu and now Markos.
Fight Pass prelims
- Lorenz Larkin is a contender. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. The UFC better re-sign him -- Larkin is a free agent -- because he is in peak form right now and on the ascendancy. He tore top 10 contender Neil Magny apart and looked nothing short of spectacular on his way to a 1st round TKO. "The Monsoon" has arrived and everyone should take notice of how well he's performed since dropping to 170. Also, Larkin kicked Magny so hard and so frequently that he picked up a nasty gash on his leg.
- Colby Covington put a whooping on Max Griffin, who was just completely and wholly overmatched on the ground, and had nothing left when he was TKO'd in the 3rd round. Covington is 5-1 in the UFC and I think it's time for a step up in competition.
- Marvin Vettori choked out Alberto Uda with a nice guillotine in the opening bout. The Kings MMA prospect by way of Italy overcame a nasty cut caused by an Uda elbow to get the 1st round stoppage win.