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.
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
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.