UFC 202 proves the sport has one of the best rivalries going
Saturday night was littered with interesting moments and intriguing characters
After Conor McGregor defeated Nate Diaz Saturday night, UFC commentator Joe Rogan tried, desperately, to grab ahold of McGregor as he darted around the ring. Finally, Rogan rested his palm on McGregor’s back and began: “I’m here with the winner, Conor McGregor,” Rogan bellowed into the microphone. “Conor, that was a dog fight. You had to dig deep. Give us your thoughts — ”
McGregor shook his head violently and pawed at the mic. “Surprise, surprise, m—–f—–s,” McGregor said. “The king is back.”
The five-round fight that had just taken place may have given McGregor a victory over Diaz (and the title of king, again), but it was awfully similar to the first fight between these two in March — when Diaz choked McGregor out despite a brutally bloody face.
Seriously, up until the 1:50 mark of the second round, this was damn near the same exact fight. McGregor had a furious burst in the opening round (again), pummeling Diaz with so many punches that his face was hemorrhaging blood (again), yet McGregor couldn’t knock Diaz out (again).
Here is Nate Diaz's face post fight #UFC202 pic.twitter.com/N7U9akAkTF
— #Dizz © (@TalkMMA) August 21, 2016
#NateDiaz: I wasn't training before I fought #ConorMcGregor #UFC196 #McGregorDiaz https://t.co/h6fuETfa7G pic.twitter.com/EUfboQwaSU
— Chisanga Malata (@Chisanga_Malata) March 8, 2016
Once we got to the middle of the second round, things changed. McGregor, as Rogan noted, was breathing heavily. He’d kick Diaz and then sprint away. Diaz noticed, too. At the 1:20 mark of round two, Diaz connected on a flurry of damaging punches to McGregor’s face that sent him scurrying.
The rest of the fight played out more or less like this: McGregor continued to shred Diaz’s legs with swift kicks. Diaz continued to charge after McGregor and threaten him at every turn. McGregor likely was about five to 10 seconds from getting knocked out in round three before the bell saved him. Still, McGregor defended better this time around and did enough to win crucial rounds.
The single biggest difference in this fight, though: Diaz was hurt. After the fight, he admitted he hurt his ribs and knee a few weeks before the fight, forcing him to halt training.
If they fight for a third time (!), the result should favor Diaz, if he’s healthy. McGregor will get off his punches early, just like he did the first two times. But he’s shown that he’s not capable of knocking out Diaz, even when Diaz is limited.
Regardless, the UFC just reinforced that it possesses one of the greatest rivalries currently in sports. Golden State Warriors-Oklahoma City Thunder next year will be lit, but with the two teams in the same conference, it’s supposed to happen. McGregor-Diaz never should have. McGregor fighting Diaz at 170 pounds when he’s supposed to fight dudes at 155 pounds is like Thunder guard Russell Westbrook beginning a rivalry with, say, New Orleans Pelicans big man Anthony Davis, the two of them guarding only each other, trading furious dunks and crazy jumpers every time they met. It would be sick. That’s McGregor-Diaz.
UFC 202 was also filled with undefeated moments before we even got to the main event. Here’s some of our favorites:
In a sport jammed to the gills with heavy fists and incredible punching power, Anthony “Rumble” Johnson might be the most dangerous man alive.
It took him just 13 seconds Saturday night to wreck Glover Teixeira’s world with an uppercut to the chin. Teixeira’s tooth actually went flying and his eyes rolled into the back of his head as his skull slammed against the mat.
Anthony Johnson is a terrifying human being. #UFC202 https://t.co/6U5hM9cDuD
— OddsShark (@OddsShark) August 21, 2016
Anthony Johnson is the only fighter in UFC history to earn five knockout victories in less than one minute each. #UFC202
— Mike Bohn (@MikeBohnMMA) August 21, 2016
Damn @Anthony_Rumble's rare one punch destruction. Skill's dialed in. Nasty. Classy post fight interview too. Always been a fan. #UFC202
— Dwayne Johnson (@TheRock) August 21, 2016
So somebody decided to have some fun with Anthony Johnson's Wikipedia page. (Via Reddit MMA) pic.twitter.com/bj26UODsaT
— Chamatkar Sandhu (@SandhuMMA) August 21, 2016
After the fight, Johnson gave his respect to incumbent light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier, saying he was a worthy champion, before adding that he’d love to fight the man. We can only hope, fam.
MMA fan Kanye West pic.twitter.com/pnRPiT8hjU
— Kenny Ducey (@KennyDucey) August 21, 2016
Dwight Howard was met with boos when he was shown on the big screen at #UFC202 https://t.co/7A2baWah3g
— SLAM Magazine (@SLAMonline) August 21, 2016
Kevin Garnett, Chauncey Billups, Andre Drummond, Tyronn Lue, Dahntay Jones and Festus Ezeli are just some of the NBA guys leaving UFC 202.
— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) August 21, 2016
In one of the most #onbrand moves, well, ever, Diaz may have been smoking a marijuana extract out of a vaporizer pen while answering reporters’ questions following the fight.
According to Complex, Diaz went into detail about the company Tru Cannabis’ CBD product, and claimed “it helps with the healing process, information and stuff like that.” He added, “You want to get this before or after a fight, training and make your life a better place.”
Diaz’s brother Nick was suspended for five years after testing positive for marijuana before UFC 183 in Sept. 2015. Oof.
Nate Diaz Smokes Weed At UFC 202 Post-Fight Press Conference (Video) https://t.co/59U0WPTcXX via @KelDansby pic.twitter.com/0RsT4hR3YE
— Robert Littal (@BSO) August 21, 2016