The Five Count: Top Storylines from UFC 196 Fallout

McGregorDiazJay Primetown takes a look at the five biggest storylines to develop from UFC 196 in Las Vegas, Nevada. #1 Mystic Mac Loses his Mystique – Saturday night’s late replacement bout against Nate Diaz was built to be a showcase fight. A match-up favorable to featherweight champion Conor McGregor to setup a blockbuster fight at UFC 200 against welterweight kingpin Robbie Lawler. McGregor had been marketed as a fighter who talks the talk and walks the walk. A man that not only predicts himself the winner, but the method and the round. Mystic Mac was on top of the MMA world until he met Nate Diaz. What happened at UFC 196 was a surprise. A word so simple, yet so true. The first round was very similar to how most thought it would play out. His mobility was excellent and he was landing significantly on the feet. He even cut Diaz and the underdog was beaten up after the first round. As the second round started, McGregor continued to land the bigger strikes, but what became clear was that punches that put out previous opponents were not going to finish Diaz. As McGregor realized he was not going to knock out his California-based opponent, he began to throw punches with even more velocity and recklessness. This created more openings for Diaz as it put McGregor off balance. The increase in power wore on the conditioning of the champion. As McGregor grew tired, Diaz began to land more and the champion was in trouble. A weak takedown attempt turned into a quick transition by the better conditioned fighter and seconds later it was Mystic Mac sealing his own fate by submitting to a rear naked choke towards the end of the second round. While McGregor proved he’s not afraid to back down from a fight, perhaps he bit off more than he can chew. His punching power did not have the same effect at 170 pounds as it did at 145 pounds. With the loss, the invincibility aura around McGregor is gone. We’ve seen it with other champions, most recently, Renan Barao, Anderson Silva, and Ronda Rousey. Once somebody at the highest levels of the sport is beaten, others in the weight class gain confidence and believe they can do the same. It levels the playing field. Whomever McGregor faces next, expect the fight to be competitive. There’s no denying his striking talent, but the mystique around McGregor has taken a serious hit. #2 The Big Winner at UFC 196 is… – Someone who didn’t even compete at UFC 196. The person who benefited most from the results at UFC 196 is none other than former women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey. After Rousey’s shocking knockout loss to Holly Holm in November 2015, she felt the need to take significant time to not only recover physically, but emotionally from the loss. Holm is a fighter with very good movement and an excellent counterstriking game. Rousey’s original game plan to pressure her opponent worked right into Holm’s preferred game plan and thus we saw such a defiant result. With Holm now losing her title to Tate, it now eliminates the first hurdle to Rousey returning; having to face Holm again. The UFC would love nothing more than for Rousey to return at UFC 200. The path is now clear for Rousey to return and face a fighter that she has already beaten definitively not once, but twice. Rousey already knows what is required to beat Tate and should have supreme confidence that she can do so a third time. What better way to return and gain confidence than to win a championship against a fighter that Rousey has already beaten in the past? With a victory, most will be erased of her defeat and she can stand at the top of women’s bantamweight mountain again. #3 Miesha’s Defining Moment – While I believe Rousey ultimately gained the most from UFC 196’s results, the person who literally won the most from the PPV is new women’s bantamweight champion Miesha Tate.  The former Strikeforce Women’s Bantamweight Champion has been the second best fighter in this division for the better part of five years. Her resilience, tenacity, and ability to comeback in fights where she is down have made her a fan favorite amongst UFC fans. The problem for Tate is that she has been second best to Rousey. If Rousey weren’t in the picture, Tate would have already been UFC champion. Instead, she’s been forced to fight fellow contenders coming up victorious in four consecutive fights. With Rousey’s surprising loss, it created a window of opportunity for Tate. In a fight where she was a three to one underdog, Tate kept the standup relatively competitive by keeping distance and forcing Holm to be the aggressor. Tate took advantage of some grappling opportunities nearly submitting Holm in the second round. Down heading into Round 5 and needing a finish to win the championship, Tate did just that latching in a rear naked choke to put her opponent unconscious. Outside of Anderson Silva’s submission against Chael Sonnen, this was perhaps the most shocking 5th round finish in UFC history. While Tate will not be remembered like her rival Rousey, what should be remembered for years to come is her unprecedented resilience and always having a chance even when down. More Miesha Tates in MMA would be a great thing for the sport. #4 Next Brazilian Contender – While the top of the women’s bantamweight title chain is the trio of Holm, Rousey, and Tate, a Brazilian has emerged from the pack as perhaps the next in line to join that group. American Top Team’s Amanda Nunes. The 27 year old is on as good a run as anyone in the UFC. With Saturday’s victory over Valentina Shevchenko, Nunes has now won five of her six career fights in the UFC including four by stoppage. Nunes continues to show improvement in each of her fights. Not only has she shown to have the most power in her strikes in the weight class, but she’s proven to be an effective grappler who is very capable of finishing from top control. Nunes has top ten wins over Sara McMann and Valentina Shevchenko with her only loss in the UFC to top 5 fighter Cat Zingano. Given that all the other top five fighters have previously faced Rousey as well as Tate, Nunes is in good shape to be in line for a title shot over the next 12 months. With the power she possesses on the feet, she’s a threat to everybody in the division. #5 Jersey Strong  – The matchup of Jim Miller and Diego Sanchez was a fight between two fighters on the downside of their careers and at a crossroads. Both fighters were in desperate need of a win to keep their place in the UFC. For New Jersey’s Miller, he had faced some of the better fighters in the lightweight division including top ten fighters Donald Cerrone and Beneil Dariush. With over 30 professional fights and 10+ years of experience, Miller has a lot of wear and tear. His ability to be competitive against quality competition has diminished. His speed and athleticism have been exposed as the division continues to see better athletes rise to the top. Wrestling, once one of his strong suits, has now turned into a liability as opponents have found success taking him to the ground. Sanchez clearly out wrestled Miller and it was the key reason Miller walked away with a loss. With four losses in his last five fights, it’s difficult to see the UFC keeping Miller on the roster much longer. Miller’s best memories in the octagon were when he reeled off seven straight wins over the likes of Gleison Tibau and Charles Oliveira. He was a Ben Henderson win away from a lightweight title shot. Seven straight wins in the UFC is an achievement few eclipse and that’s certainly something Miller can hang his hat on.  

Written by Jay Primetown

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