UFC 196, otherwise known as the card that killed UFC 200.
Everything can change in an instant in the fight game. Jose Aldo found that out when Conor McGregor knocked him out in 13 seconds for the featherweight crown, and now the Irishman has been made aware of that, too.
Before Nate Diaz suffocated the mystique, McGregor spoke of grand climbs through different weight divisions. He made bold claims of delivering $1 billion in revenue and portrayed the image of a fighter equal to the world’s biggest fight promotion. As it turns out, though, there’s a reason the UFC introduced weight classes.
Although it was the same confident showman that entered the Octagon, it was evident early on that the notorious power McGregor possesses, does not quite translate at 170lbs.
Yes, he was dominant in the first round and yes, Diaz was being picked apart at times, as a cut on his right eye left his face a bloody mess at the first-round klaxon. But the Californian weathered that adversity, maintained his poise and executed like true martial artist when he saw his window.
Conversely, his foe was quickly realising that at welterweight, the guys are bigger, the hits are harder and when you take a stunning blow, the recovery time much longer.
Diaz was bloodied but he was by no means buried. He overloaded on the infamous death-touch left hand and in his own words his inefficiency was countered by efficient striking that made him desperate. Featherweight to welter is a huge jump and his fall equalled that gap, as Diaz sunk in the rear-naked choke in the second stanza after rocking “Notorious” with a big left.
“It is what it is. I was fighting a heavier man,” admitted McGregor. “He could take a shot and remain in your face. In the second I was hitting glove. He stayed in my face, capitalised on it. I make no excuses. I took a chance, I came up short.
“I have no regrets about coming up. I enjoyed the build up. It was an enjoyable fight. We were talking in there. We live and we learn. I haven’t stopped in a long time a crazy couple of years but I’m still enjoying it. I think UFC 200 is there for me, but I’ll figure it out in the morning. I’m heartbroken.”
McGregor’s undefeated UFC streak is now broken, too, but make no mistake, his star power is far from doused. True, the dynamic has changed and although we like to see arrogant people humbled, we enjoy watching them try to rise from the ashes of defeat even more.
So, where does this leave us? And more specifically, where does this leave UFC 200? We have the featherweight champ, who lost to a lightweight at welterweight, who is a natural 155lbs fighter who lost to the belt holder Rafael dos Anjos but proved his class at a division above.
There are a lot of moving parts and possibilities but make no mistake, July’s historic is the biggest loser.
A slated welterweight titlefight between McGregor and Robbie Lawler is a much glossier proposition than a 145lbs-defence against Frankie Edgar or Jose Aldo. For Diaz, however, what we may just see him challenge for gold of his own.
“You know what would make a lot of sense? This isn’t the fight I’m making; I’m just saying him and Robbie would make a lot of sense,” UFC president Dana White said. “His brother beat Robbie. Robbie is now the world champion, and Nate became very popular tonight. We’ll see what happens with Nate.”
Potential mega-fights for the future have been damaged by UFC 196 but that blow will be softened as it’s tracking to be an all-time blockbuster event for the promotion. The wound, however, remains.
The UFC was well on its way to eclipsing the record revenue streams of 2015 and though it will in all likelihood still get there, the challenge of putting together megafights for July just got tougher.
“In 16 years in this business, the one thing you don’t do is plan anything out,” White added. “Because you don’t know.”
Indeed, you don’t, and that’s the beauty of the fight game: everything can change in an instant.
Social media, as ever, has gone into over-drive following Nate Diaz’s sensational win against in-form Conor McGregor in their UFC 196 Fight Night bout.
Here are the best of the tweets so far:
Nate Diaz walks after upsetting Conor McGregor. https://t.co/2K2do5cTq0— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 6, 2016
McGregor taps out! Diaz beats the odds to beat the Irish McGregor! Who saw that coming?! Pictures from BT Sports pic.twitter.com/iGSYSQuABJ— fanatix (@therealfanatix) March 6, 2016
What a crazy night!!!!!!!— Sydney Leroux Dwyer (@sydneyleroux) March 6, 2016
— Patrick Peterson /P2 (@RealPeterson21) March 6, 2016
Can McGregor add to his impressive record in the UFC or will Diaz derail his momentum?
Use #360Fans to share with us your thoughts on the fight with both predictions and reactions to all the events on the night.