Touted as a night of two ninjas and top-tier females squaring off, UFC 196, from the exclusive Fight Pass prelims to the main event, parlayed more precisely as pairs of warriors geared up to exit the UFC’s Octagon either with their shield or on it. The UFC’s recent pay-per-view delivered an evening of entertainment that reminded fans to keep their guards up.
Is This America?
A fight involving Conor McGregor is synonymous with green, white, and orange, so it should come as no surprise to catch wind of McGregor’s fanbase flooding the MGM Grand Garden Arena draped in the symbol of their national hero. Aware of McGregor’s rabid following, I was unclear as to why the arena remained so empty, even at the event’s onset, and my pessimism grabbed ahold:
My answer met my Twitter’s feed, yet my comprehension on the matter lingered in a confused state:
Personally, I’m fond of witnessing countries exhibit pride for their athletes, and I wish more Americans would jump on board to mimic this behavior. Once claim tickets were passed out and the swath of Irish flags filled the MGM’s broom closet, the seats filled up with warm, passionate bodies.
Nordine Taleb, a competitor from The Ultimate Fighter Nations: Canada vs. Australia, entered UFC 196 toned to detail each muscular fiber of his welterweight frame, but his Reebok apparel defied logic. At first, I assumed his shorts were unintentionally tangled, creating a parachute appearance:
Minute after minute, the shorts never settled into the form fitting flow promised by Reebok’s President at the inception of its deal with the UFC, and others shared their thoughts on the matter:
Riding in the painful wake of Reebok’s malfunctioning spellchecker, it wouldn’t shock me in the least to learn that Taleb manipulated his Canadian Fight Kit to preserve the dignity of his sole fight-week sponsor from any further backlash,
No matter Taleb’s attire issues, the only thing more crumpled up at the end of the contest was his opponent, Erick Silva, departing from his consciousness after a devastating right hand.
Fun With Nicknames
Often, nicknames carry a lighthearted air to the world’s most intense sport, and “Filthy” Tom Lawlor and Corey “Beastin’ 25/8” Anderson cracked the window to allow a humorous breeze into their heated competition.
Possessing an alter ego such as Anderson’s, it’s difficult to recall the best time to throw a comment out there, but, with The Persistence of Memory, the middle of the second round offered the perfect juncture to share my perspective on the moniker owned by The Ultimate Fighter Season 19 winner:
Lawlor, tired of the cut to middleweight and successful in his last outing at light heavyweight, attempted his luck again in the division suited to his comfort level. Although some may lose a bit of their power at a higher weight class, Lawlor still packed a vicious pop in his punches,
The scorecards announced Anderson as the victor, but he’d agree, all day long and then some, with those who argued about the two judges who awarded him 30-27, verifying how filthy their glasses must have been.
Another mixed martial artist with a nickname that pinches me awake: Diego “Nightmare” Sanchez. Win or lose, The Ultimate Fighter season 1 winner bites down on his mouthpiece and instigates a dogfight, inciting pleasure and appreciation from spectators.
Sure enough, the second Sanchez tasted Jim Miller’s leather, the cheers rained down from the stands as the Albuquerque product aggressively unleashed haymakers, tossing technique aside for an all out brawl.
Too bad for a regulated amount of time because Sanchez was well on his way to warming up by the final round’s buzzer, and he collected the unanimous decision win.
Co Main Event: Miesha Tate vs. Holly Holm
All the buzz surrounding the main event of UFC 196 nearly muted a complex duel for the women’s 135 pound title between the challenger, Miesha Tate, and the champion, Holly Holm.
The volume was cranked up loud and clear when “Big” John McCarthy signaled for action. Round after round, time raced off the clock as these bantamweights exchanged efforts, and the end results were as sweet for Tate as the icing on any cupcake. Without a governing tally of the rounds’ scores, it was anyone’s game walking into the fifth and final round, but the chances of Tate receiving the nod were unlikely; it’s not often a challenger overtakes the champion via the assistance of outside sources.
In a last ditch effort, Tate sprang into the torso of Holm and, with pure desperation, yanked “The Preacher’s Daughter” to the ground. Instinctually, Tate clawed her way up the champ’s back toward her neck, locked in a rear naked choke, and radiated desperation as she squeezed with all her might. Holm put forth a futile effort to shake Tate off, to no avail:
Main Event: Nate Diaz vs. Conor McGregor
In only eleven days, I was more revved up than expected for a fight with implications of pride, not belts. The bravado of the Diaz brothers, unrivaled by most others in MMA, enchants fans, and McGregor’s prophetic words captivate audiences near and wide. Question marks coinciding with preparation, weight, and reach encompassed much of the pundits’ debate when analyzing this grudge match.
The war of words originated upon the fight’s announcement, and the jawing continued right up until the final instructions preceding the opening bell:
In spite of Diaz and McGregor walking around near the same weight, I was intrigued to note how McGregor would fair two weight classes above the reading on his championship belt. Round one divulged the size difference would unveil the biggest loser because shots McGregor landed on Diaz had flattened previous competition, but Diaz marched forward. Since joining the ranks of the UFC, McGregor has called his shot and, more often than not, executed; therefore, at the close of the opening round, I sensed the pendulum swaying in Diaz’s direction:
Round two restarted the dance; McGregor appeared to be landing more shots, but Diaz, noticeably bloody and swollen, persisted as if unfazed. Soon enough, it was telling that the reach of Diaz greatly factored into this chess match. Diaz was able to land combinations on McGregor who had grown accustomed to standing outside the pocket of his former adversaries. When Diaz smiled following a flush left hand, the tides quickly turned. A stunned McGregor became the prey he claimed Diaz to be, and he was ripped to the ground and pounded while mounted. Attempting to avoid danger, McGregor turned his back to Diaz, which simultaneously welcomed his demise. Diaz sank in a rear naked choke and mandated McGregor’s submission.
Was UFC 196 worth it? YES!