Wow! UFC 196 was an amazing night for the fans, but a frustrating one for UFC President Dana White as he starts planning UFC 200, the biggest card in the promotion’s history. When White and the fans look back UFC 196, it will be remember as an exciting card for the fans that was a box office and PPV success while putting on two of the most memorable co-main events/main events in recent history. Here are the top takeaways from UFC 196.
Jiu-Jitsu still rules: In both the co-main event and main event, the superior striker was dominating both fights on the feet before the stronger grappler was able to take the fights to the ground and get the come-from-behind submission victories. All Holly Holm had to do was finish out the fifth round in order to clinch her first successful title defense. In the second round, Holm show major technical gaps from the bottom half guard position and was saved by the bell as Miesha Tate controlled her back to end the round. In the fifth round, Holm’s inability to defend from the turtle position and standing back control, ultimately cost her the title. If there is a rematch, Holm will need to bring in a high level BJJ black belt to work on her escapes and defense on the ground much like she brought in top judo experts to learn to counter Ronda Rousey’s judo throws for UFC 193.
Nate Diaz was cut badly over his right eye early in the first round of his FOTN effort against UFC featherweight champion Conor McGregor. Once Diaz rallied and stunned McGregor with a flurry of Stockton slaps, McGregor surprising shot a double leg on Diaz that was defended with a sprawl. Diaz used his Cesar Gracie black belt to keep the fight on the ground by attempting a guillotine, sweeping to side control, mounting the Irishman and then cinching the rear naked choke on McGregor for the upset. At UFC 196, BJJ proved to be the great equalizer and an essential tool of high-level MMA. I will bet Kitt Canaria’s life that Rener and Ryron Gracie will have a Gracie Breakdown for UFC 196 up by Sunday evening.
McGregor loses leverage: Red panty night for future opponents of Conor McGregor won’t be as joyous anymore after his second round loss to Nate Diaz at UFC 196. Entering the fight, McGregor claimed he was calling the shots and left the featherweight division in limbo while potential title runs in the lightweight and welterweight divisions. With the loss to Diaz, McGregor’s aura of invincibility is greatly diminished and his leverage in picking opponents and division is done for now. While McGregor wants to defend his bantamweight title in a rematch with Jose Aldo, the UFC brass will weigh whether a fight against with Aldo or Frankie Edgar will generate more fan interest and revenue in both the United States and Brazil. Also, with UFC 200 possibility breaking all previous PPV sales records and McGregor getting PPV points as part of his salary, he has a huge economic incentive to be part of the historic event in July.
Nate Diaz is the money fight for Rafael Dos Anjos: Despite losing an uninspiring, unanimous decision to Rafael Dos Anjos in December 2014, Nate Diaz has looked impressive in his last two victories in the Octagon. Dana White and Joe Silva owe Diaz after he saved the card and used his ant-hero persona to help market it. With the media attention and strong PPV sales for UFC 196, Diaz has put himself in position to leap frog the other lightweight contenders for a title shot at Rafael Dos Anjos, which is another possible title fight for UFC 200. Dana White has also teased Nate Diaz vs. Robbie Lawler, so apparently Diaz in good graces with Uncle Dana.
Will Ronda come back for UFC 200: While Ronda Rousey has previously announced a hiatus until November 2016, but Dana White told ESPN he will be contacting her to gauge her interest in a trilogy fight with new bantamweight champion Miesha Tate at UFC 200. With her recent media campaigns on Saturday Night Live and the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, Rousey is still a major media star and PPV draw. While Rousey, might have needed more time to develop her striking skills for a rematch with Holm, her current skill set that she used to defeat Tate twice might be enough for her to regain the bantamweight title at UFC 200. If Rousey passes on UFC 200, Holm will likely be the top candidate to face Tate in a rematch.
What was GSP doing at UFC 196?: Former UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre was sitting front row at UFC 196. He recently said he will do a test training camp to see how his body feels before deciding on whether he would return to the Octagon. A welterweight title defense by Robbie Lawler wasn’t announced as part of the UFC Unstoppable press conference to announce events from April to June 2016. If UFC 200 is going to be the biggest event in the promotion’s history, a return fight for the title featuring the promotion’s biggest draw in history will put the event over the top in both media relations and PPV sales. Georges St. Pierre vs. Robbie Lawler, combined with two additional title fights would do huge PPV numbers for the UFC. Time will tell if there was more than meets the eye for GSP’s ringside appearance at UFC 196.