Conor McGregor can breathe a little easier.
The reigning Ultimate Fighting Championship featherweight titleholder took a majority decision from Nate Diaz in the UFC 202 headliner on Saturday at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Judges Derek Cleary and Jeff Mullen awarded McGregor 48-47 scorecards, while Glenn Trowbridge ruled it a 47-47 draw. The long-awaited non-title rematch resulted in a “Fight of the Year” contender and pulled McGregor even at 1-1 in their head-to-head series.
The SBG Ireland cornerstone focused on Diaz’s lead leg early in the bout, ripping into his thigh with crushing kicks. It led to a more stationary Diaz and left him susceptible to punches. McGregor (20-3, 8-1 UFC) knocked down the Californian three times in the first two rounds but failed to generate the stoppage he predicted. His pace slowed late in the second round and into the third, as Diaz upped the pressure and began slamming multi-punch combinations into his body and head. He was also effective in the clinch, as he trapped McGregor along the fence and unleashed with punches, knees and occasional standing elbows. None of it was enough to put away “The Notorious” one.
McGregor found his second wind in the fourth round and began peppering his rival with lefts and rights upstairs. Bleeding from multiple cuts, Diaz (19-11, 14-9 UFC) kept firing back and beckoned McGregor to do the same. With the outcome still in doubt, Diaz made a last-ditch move in round five, where he whiffed on two takedowns but executed the third. He spent the closing seconds on top pummeling McGregor with ground-and-pound. However, the finish Diaz needed failed to materialize, and the stage was set for a trilogy.
Related » UFC 202 Round-by-Round Scoring
Johnson KOs Teixeira in 13 Seconds
Blackzilians juggernaut Anthony Johnson knocked out Glover Teixeira in the first round of their light heavyweight co-main event. A right uppercut left Teixeira (25-5, 8-3 UFC) stiff and unconscious 13 seconds into round one, as the Brazilian was finished for the first time since his pro debut in June 2002.
Johnson (22-5, 13-5 UFC) answered the former Shooto Americas champion’s aggression with violent punching power. The uppercut split Teixeira’s defenses, had spit flying and sent the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt crashing to the mat. Two hammerfists on the out-cold Teixeira reaffirmed what everyone already knew: The fight was over.
The 32-year-old Johnson has gone 12-1 across his last 13 appearances.
Cerrone Ties Hughes on Wins List
Jackson-Wink MMA mainstay Donald Cerrone took out Rick Story with a head kick and follow-up punches in the second round of their featured welterweight clash. Cerrone (31-7, 18-4 UFC) tied the bow on a scintillating performance 2:02 into round two, winning for the 11th time in 12 outings.
Story (19-9, 12-7 UFC) was on the defensive from the start. Cerrone answered his takedown in the first round by immediately threatening with a triangle choke and forcing the fight back to the feet. Once there, he picked apart Story with a variety of strikes, from leg and body kicks to punches upstairs. Early in the second round, Cerrone tore into the 31-year-old with an exquisite multi-strike combination to the body and head. A head kick punctuated the volley and sent Story careening in the cage. Cerrone then drove him to the mat and finished it with punches.
The win was Cerrone’s 18th under the UFC banner, tying him with Matt Hughes for third on the all-time list. He trails only Georges St. Pierre and Michael Bisping, both with 19.
Undefeated Perry Fells Lim
Promotional newcomer Mike Perry blew away former Pacific Xtreme Combat champion Hyun Gyu Lim with first-round punches in their featured attraction at 170 pounds. A fill-in for the injured Sultan Aliev, Perry (7-0, 1-0 UFC) brought it to a close 3:38 into round one.
Lim (13-6-1, 3-3) had no answer for the thunder in the Flint, Michigan, native’s hands, as Perry knocked down the monstrous Korean three times before it was over. He did real damage with an overhand right that folded Lim over one of his legs, pounced with punches and then reset himself on the feet. Soon after, Perry clipped the oncoming taekwondo black belt with a left hand that sent him crashing to the canvas face first. He followed with a few more punches that prompted referee John McCarthy to act.
Perry, 24, has finished all seven of his opponents, five of them inside one round.
Means Slices, Dices Homasi
Former King of the Cage champion Tim Means disposed of Sabah Homasi with second-round punches in their welterweight showcase. A replacement for the injured Sean Strickland, Homasi (11-6, 0-1 UFC) wilted 2:56 into round two.
Means (26-7-1, 8-4 UFC) surrendered two takedowns in the first round but remained patient and focused. He cut Homasi near his hairline with a short standing elbow and hit the accelerator as the round came to a close. Means picked up where he left off in the second, as he attacked the weary American Top Team rep’s head and body with punches and knees. Fatigued and badly bloodied, Homasi retreated to the fence and offered no resistance, resulting in a standing technical knockout.
The 32-year-old Means has won six of his last seven fights.