When Nate Diaz grabbed the microphone from Joe Rogan in Orlando after beating Michael Johnson on national television, he shouted that Conor McGregor had stolen everything he worked for.
But Diaz had it slightly twisted.
What he realized, and likely already knew, was that McGregor didn’t steal from Diaz. Instead he brought something to the table: a shot at history.
UFC president Dana White said following UFC 196’s series of surprises that the event is trending to be the biggest success in the history of the company. McGregor has been on many record-breaking shows, but in partnering with Diaz, the sky seemed to be the limit.
Both fighters delivered in the lead-up to the fight, and when the Octagon door closed they put on a show to remember.
Diaz said that McGregor has been doing a “good” job. Game respects game, as the saying goes, and Diaz showed with his second-round submission against the previously unbeaten (in the UFC) Irishman that he still has plenty of that in sport.
Here are the UFC 196 Talking Points:
More from UFC 196: Order UFC 196 replay | UFC 196 results | Post-fight bonus recap | Diaz shocks McGregor | Tate wins title | Latifi, Anderson, Nunes win decisions | Prelims had it all | Sanchez, Saggo and Ishihara win early | Backstage interviews: Nate Diaz, Miesha Tate, Corey Anderson, Amanda Nunes, Siyar Bahadurzada, Nordine Taleb, Vitor Miranda | Octagon interviews: Nate Diaz and Conor McGregor, Miesha Tate, Diego Sanchez | WATCH: Exclusive GSP interview | Watch the UFC FIGHT PASS prelims here | Picture perfect: Best snaps from Vegas
Diaz breaks through to superstardom
There was no question that Diaz seemed to handle the “McGregor bubble” better than any UFC opponent before him.
He made McGregor tap in front of a packed MGM Grand Garden Arena and then said he wasn’t surprised.
“I knew I was the superior boxer and the superior martial artist,” Diaz said. “Nothing surprised me except that I got hit at all. I think with a full camp I would have been flawless.”
In the end Diaz was the bigger and savvier fighter. He had been through the wars and knew how he could beat McGregor. That’s usually the Irishman’s specialty.
The fight played out exactly as Diaz thought it would.
“I land a lot of punches on people and then they always shoot on me and that’s why I got a lot of submission finishes,” he said. “They shoot because they don’t want more punches landing on their head. The submission comes from the punches, otherwise it’s gonna be a knockout.”
McGregor humble in defeat
Sometimes even the best lose; in the fight game it’s virtually inevitable.
McGregor experienced the heartache he’s handed out so many times over the course of his UFC career against Diaz at UFC 196. And as he’s always said he would, he handled it with humility.
“It’s a bitter pill to swallow but it’s the fight business,” McGregor told UFC correspondent Megan Olivi. “I was inefficient and he was efficient. Usually I hit a man like that and he folds. But with the extra weight he could take the shots.
“I’m not done by any stretch of the imagination. I will handle this loss like a champion. I will not shy away from it or makes excuses to it. I lost in there and there were errors. But errors can be fixed.”
Tate delivers with back against the wall
Miesha Tate herself knew that she was in a must-win situation against Holly Holm.
After one title loss it isn’t often a fighter gets a second chance, and even rarer is the third. So Tate needed to seize her opportunity.
Tate has been at the top of the game for as long as women’s MMA has been relevant, and now she finally holds the belt that she’s been chasing.
“I knew I had to play it cool with her because she is so good,” Tate said. “I knew in the fifth round I had to gut it out and take the risk, because if I didn’t I didn’t want to lose on the decision.
“I want to stay busy and stay active. I’m not getting any younger and I’m not going anywhere. I want to do this and I want to do it big and I want to do it as big as I can.”
Holm learns valuable lesson in first career loss
In just four months Holly Holm has experienced the highest high and now the lowest low.
After knocking out the iconic Ronda Rousey at UFC 193, Holm surrenders the belt she won that night in her first title defense — in a fight she was winning on the scorecards.
Holm admitted she should have stayed aggressive to finish the fight.
“I think that I just have to be honest with myself,” Holm said. “I knew I was ahead on the scorecards and I think I got a little too complacent there instead of being still acting with that sense of urgency. I made a big mistake and it cost me everything tonight. But I’ll be back.”
Holm has the respect of the new champ, and Tate said she’ll welcome another chance to face Holm down the line.
“I just want to say thank you to Holly for stepping up when she could have waited,” Tate said. “In my mind that woman is still a champion and will always have a ton of my respect.”
Matt Parrino is a digital producer and writer for UFC.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MattParrinoUFC