UFC 196: Top 20 Takeaways From the Night MMA Stood Still

Reality bites and skills matter. Just ask Conor McGregor. In stunning fashion, Nate Diaz tapped McGregor with a rear-naked choke.

A title was not at stake at UFC 196. Something far more important was: pride and respect.

Lost in the McGregor mania was the fact that the Irishman was insulting Diaz based on his race at every turn. He called him a “Fajita” a “Cholo” and told him to “dance for me.” In a CNBC interview he suggested that Diaz didn’t know how to count to 10. If he made those same comments with different descriptors about Asians, African-Americans or most other ethnic groups there would have likely been some kind of repercussions.

Instead, most observers blew it off as Conor being Conor. Also lost on people during the short build-up to the fight was the utter disrespect of mixed martial arts. Diaz is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt. He is a submission artist. He’s proved that he is tough, game and often smart in the cage. Just because McGregor talks a great game and was on an impressive winning streak, people assumed he would walk right through this guy. In reality, Diaz should have been the favorite. But alas, everyone fell for the McGregor hype.

The hype bubble behind Holly Holm also imploded Saturday night. Skills matter. That’s one of the major takeaways from UFC 196. Let’s take a look at some of the significant takeaways from The Night the Lights Went Out at McGregorland.

20. Jiu-Jitsu Rules

How do you beat a bully? Choke him out. Nate Diaz beat up McGregor with his fists and then choked him out after McGregor went for a takedown. If you are going to be a mixed martial artist at the highest level, you can’t give up your back with a black belt on top of you.

19. Weight Goes Up, Punching Power Doesn’t

It’s great that McGregor was able to walk into the cage looking like Ivan Drago. But in real life, time after time, we’ve seen combat sport athletes lose their power as they move up in weight. Guys are bigger, and muscles made for show don’t always result in punching power.

18. Cardio Matters

By the time McGregor walked into the cage he probably weighed 185 pounds. You can’t be bouncing around like a featherweight when you weigh that much. McGregor got tired, hit and then became something far less then the greatest mixed martial arts fighter on the planet. The way he folded under pressure, turning his back to avoid getting smacked, is something you’d expect a rookie to do.

17. UFC Booking Needs Some Help

The UFC is booking shows like every one is the company’s last. So in what world is it smart to have McGregor move up two weight classes to fight a skilled, tall tough guy who will battle to the death? Does Dana White secretly hate McGregor? Some advice: The next time one of your big stars loses an opponent a few days before a big fight — CANCEL THE FIGHT. It’s hurts in the short-term, but will be much better in the long-run.

16. Nate Diaz is Classy

Yes, Nate Diaz is classy. He may not be articulate. He swears too much on camera. He gives too many middle fingers. But at the end of the day, Diaz let his skills talk for him. Sure, he defended himself a few times when McGregor insulted him, but he had no choice. Diaz could have insulted McGregor in a number of ways, but chose to take the high road. That’s the sign of a confident fighter.

15. Holly Holm’s Decision Not to Tap

That was dumb. She could have been seriously injured. That being said, she deserves mad respect for refusing to tap out and instead choosing to go to no-man’s land. It’s amazing to see how far women’s MMA has come. The women in MMA are some of the greatest and most courageous athletes.

14. Conor McGregor’s Decision to Tap

What a fitting way to humble McGregor. McGregor made the right choice to tap quickly once Diaz got the rear naked choke on him. But it’s amazing to see how a man changes when he feels threatened. McGregor, the brash-talking, race-baiting, arrogant bully, tapped like a beginning jiu-jitsu student, by deep contrast to Holm.

13. Experience Matters

Miesha Tate had more than twice as many MMA fights as Holly Holm. And it showed. Tate nearly submitted Holm in the second round. Then it looked like Holm turned the tables and was winning with her superior boxing. Tate, however, a veteran of MMA wars, knew she needed a finish in the fifth round to win. So she went for it. She decided to leave it all in the cage, largely because she had been there before and knew what was at stake.

12. Holly Holm is Very Beatable

Clearly the way to beat Holly Holm is to get her off her feet. Expect Ronda Rousey to try this if they ever fight again. Every other fighter will also try to take her down. Although she defended the choke in the second round, in the fifth she was tired. Holm’s body also looked very different in this fight than the Rousey fight. She didn’t look nearly as muscular or strong.

11. Georges St-Pierre’s Presence

Was Dana White really thinking about booking Georges St-Pierre against McGregor? He said in the post-fight conference that he was not, but no one believes that. Has MMA reasoning gone out the window. Conor McGregor couldn’t last two rounds with Nate Diaz and somehow, maybe, possibly, he was be considered for GSP?

10. “I Was Inefficient With My Energy”

Translation: “I got tired because I was too heavy and fighting a guy with better cardio.”

9. Ronda Rousey Will Return

Even though Miesha Tate is a better fighter than Rousey, the former UFC women’s bantamweight champion probably thinks she can walk right through Tate. That’s a mistake. Rousey is no longer invincible. Tate has a new air of confidence. Rousey vs. Tate will happen. It is an easier for for Rousey on paper, but the outcome may be much different than the first two fights.

8. Don’t Believe The Hype

About anybody. McGregor is a great talker, but he is still just a man. MMA fanboys, remember this, tape it to the bottom of your Xbox One controller if you have to: Everyone is beatable. EVERYONE. When you are watching from afar, and living vicariously through an athlete, it’s easy to believe they are as invincible as you would like them to be. They are not. Any fighter can beat another fighter on any given day. Throw in the most well-trained, experienced mixed martial artists in the world and anything can happen.

7. Styles Make Fights

Instead of the MMA fanboys getting all psyched up because someone cuts a good promo, try analyzing the fight first. There’s a reason why Jon Jones has destroyed everyone he has faced except for Alexander Gustafsson. Gustafsson matches up well with Jones in terms of height and reach. That means the kinds of things Jones was successful with against smaller fighters didn’t work as well against Gustafsson, which is why he barely beat the man by decision. Styles make fights. Ronda Rousey could have been the most dominant fighter in the history of the UFC had she never fought Holly Holm. Holm’s style is arguably the only style capable of beating Rousey in MMA. Again, styles make fights. Some fighters match up really well with each other. Some don’t. Is Fabricio Werdum a better mixed martial artist than Cain Velasquez? No. But Werdum’s Jiu-Jitsu is enough to make Velasquez think twice about taking the fight to the mat.

6. UFC Payouts Are Out of Whack

So Conor McGregor gets $1 million guaranteed, while Nate Diaz gets $500,000? Holly Holm received $500,000 while Miesha Tate got $46,000 to show and $46,000 to win? Are these people doing relatively the same work. McGregor should be getting $1 million, but so should Holm. Diaz should be getting close to $1 million and Tate deserves at least as much as Holm. Tate is a former Strikeforce women’s champion and is much more marketable of a star than Holm. I am not familiar with all of the UFC’s costs, but I would like to know how much White and the Fertitta brothers are taking home. The total payroll for the card was $2.8 million — with McGregor getting $1 million of that. There’s something very disturbing about those inequalities. According to Celebrities Money, take a look at how much boxers make — and clearly they are taking in much less revenue than the UFC.

5. Holly Holm’s Future is Shaky

Holm cannot afford to lose again in her next fight. She’s not Ronda Rousey. Rousey has made it. She never has to win a fight again and she will still be considered one of the greats of all-time. Holm is in James “Buster” Douglas land right now. She met her Evander Holyfield in Miesha Tate. She’s probably never going to be a dominant fighter. Whatever she was going to be will be a lot less after Tate exposed her ground game.

4. Miesha Tate is the Female Daniel Cormier

Tate couldn’t beat the champion, but she beat the woman who beat the champion. Daniel Cormier couldn’t beat the champion, but won the title after the champion was stripped of his belt. Even though they wear UFC gold, they won’t be full champions in the eyes of the masses until they avenge their losses. Tate must get through Rousey to legitimize herself as one of the greats of all time. Cormier too must get by Jon Jones. Both of those fights present big challenges for Tate and Cormier, and they’ll need to conquer their foes in 2016.

 3. Conor McGregor is Now Chael Sonnen

We love Chael Sonnen. He used to cut the best promos in MMA. And unlike McGregor, he was funny, not mean. But after Sonnen started to lose a lot, the luster of his words waned. McGregor undoubtedly will come back talking smack about Frankie Edgar, Rafael Dos Anjos and Jose Aldo, but it will never be the same. McGregor is naked now. Everyone knows he can be beaten, and tapped, and tapped quickly. He will still be entertaining, but it will be like the the wife who accepts the husband back after he cheats. Sure, she’ll let him in again and act like it never happened, but deep down, that suspicion and distrust will remain. At the end of the day, McGregor tried to bully Diaz by insulting his racial heritage, intelligence, body and toughness. What happened? McGregor tapped to that same individual, who had just out-conditioned, out-punched and outsmarted him. McGregor couldn’t back up his talk in the cage.

2. Don’t Bank on Nate Diaz Either

Nate Diaz vs. Robbie Lawler? Whatever. Lawler will not be dumb enough to try and take Diaz down. Lawler will punch and punch and punch until he knocks Diaz out. If McGregor could hit Diaz at will in the first round, do you have any idea what Diaz’s face would have looked like against Lawler? He hits really hard. Just about everyone he hits he knocks out or seriously damages. Diaz will have to shoot early to take Lawler down, but  that won’t be easy. If Diaz is smart, he’ll call for a fight with someone like Rory MacDonald, who doesn’t hit like Lawler.

1. Good Luck With UFC 200

For some reason the UFC decided to book Jon Jones vs. Daniel Cormier II and Luke Rockhold vs Chris Weidman II before UFC 200. That would have been an amazing double main event. Now, what are we going to get? GSP vs. Lawler? Nate Diaz vs. Lawler? Ronda Rousey vs. Miesha Tate III? Cyborg vs. Tate? Conor McGregor vs. Frankie Edgar? CM Punk vs. Mickey Gall? Cain Velasquez vs. Josh Barnett? Brock Lesnar vs. Fedor (I wish). Certainly the UFC will throw some main event together, but at this point, it’s somewhat of a mish-mash, rushed effort. Maybe they should just treat UFC 200 like any other card and not force some fighters into bad match-ups. They shouldn’t sacrifice the rest of 2016 just to pop a big number in July.

Follow Joshua Molina on Twitter: @JECMolina

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