Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Sports

After upsets, UFC picking itself up off the canvas

Holly Holm is now the one who wants a rematch — with Miesha Tate, not Ronda Rousey.

Conor McGregor said he was so humbled following his loss to Nate Diaz that he was "heartbroken."

The events of UFC 196 in Las Vegas on Saturday were staggering, as will be the repercussions.

Driven by their competitive fire, both Holm and McGregor made decisions to accept their Saturday fights. In hindsight, the moves require a big fix. Instead of waiting for the massive purse of a fall rematch with Rousey while wearing her women's bantamweight belt, Holm, 34, opted to stay more active following her November triumph in Australia and pushed the UFC for a match against Tate.

She got it — and lost her belt.

UFC president Dana White said he texted Rousey, who was seen on social media watching the fight on her phone, and she texted, "Gonna have to get back to work."

While Holm (10-1) relied on her world-champion boxing skill to win three of the first four rounds, Tate took her down in the fifth, then impressively maintained a chokehold on Holm's neck while being flipped, flexing the rear naked choke to win by submission with 90 seconds remaining in the final round.

"I want to fight Miesha tomorrow," Holm said. "Everyone before this fight was saying, 'Why are you taking this fight? You should be going for the rematch.' You know what, I'm in it to fight. Tonight, I made some mistakes. I'll fix those mistakes and come back stronger."

Ireland's McGregor (19-3) could've chosen a lighter man or not accepted Diaz's hedging to fight at welterweight — 25 pounds above the popular featherweight champion's typical weight limit.

Diaz (20-11) submitted McGregor in the second round after rocking him with heavy punches earlier in the round.

And now there's some luster off the charismatic fighter who was becoming the UFC's most popular, reflected by the 14,898 who attended his non-title bout against a substitute opponent. He expressed continued interest in fighting at UFC 200 in July, likely back at 145 pounds.

"I took the fight. It didn't work," McGregor said. "(Diaz) can take a hell of a shot. It is what it is. I came up short. I took a chance; it didn't pay off. I'll get back."

McGregor immediately found incentive to move on, seeing a tweet posted from featherweight champion Jose Aldo relishing his rival's loss after McGregor knocked out Aldo in 13 seconds in December. "That's the sign of a loser," McGregor said.

"I know there's a lot of celebrating this in the featherweight division. ... I feel it is right to go back down and remind them of what I have achieved.

"Usually, I fight a man in my division, and they crumble with those shots. Nate took them very well. The weight allowed him to take those shots. With a little bit of an adjustment and a recognition that, with the bigger man, you have to be more efficient with my shots … I made some errors. Hats off to Nate. It was a battle of energy he got the better of."

White said the penciled-in script for what was to be with the expected McGregor and Holm victories has become seriously unsettled.

"I don't know. We'll see how this thing plays out," White said. "Sixteen years in this business, the one thing you don't do is plan out what will happen."

In addition to figuring out McGregor's next bout, White has to decide when a third Tate-Rousey fight — Rousey won the first two — would take place and when Holm would fight again, and against whom. White had hoped for a Rousey-Holm rematch in what he previously said would be the most lucrative UFC fight in history.

After Saturday, White honestly doesn't know many things.

— Los Angeles Times (TNS)

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