Matches to Make After UFC 196

By Brian Knapp Mar 6, 2016

Ambition got the best of Conor McGregor.

The Ultimate Fighting Championship featherweight titleholder moved up two divisions, ran into Nate Diaz and submitted to a second-round rear-naked choke in the UFC 196 headliner on Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. McGregor asked out 4:12 into round two, his dreams of multi-division dominance on hold for now.

Diaz withstood the Irishman on the feet, as he absorbed a series of straight lefts and right uppercuts that left him battered and bloodied. He seemed to enjoy the experience. McGregor ran out of steam and ideas in the second round, where “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 5 winner wobbled him with a straight left, swarmed with punches and prompted him to dive on an ill-advised takedown. Diaz bailed on a guillotine, achieved full mount and moved to the back when McGregor rolled in desperation. Soon after, the rear-naked choke was set, his trap expertly sprung.

The upset raises Diaz’s profile to unseen heights and leaves McGregor with far more questions than answers. In wake of UFC 196 “McGregor vs. Diaz,” here are five matchups that ought to be considered:

Related » UFC 196: By the Numbers

Conor McGregor vs. Frankie Edgar: For the first time in more than five years, McGregor left the cage on the wrong side of the ledger. The submission defeat to Diaz not only snapped his 15-fight winning streak but perhaps backed him into a corner in which he never envisioned himself. McGregor has two choices: return to 145 pounds to defend his title against Edgar or vacate the championship for a permanent move to the lightweight division. Such was the risk he assumed when he signed to face Rafael dos Anjos and then agreed to meet Diaz when the Brazilian withdrew with a broken foot. Edgar, 34, has won five straight fights, including a scintillating knockout of Chad Mendes at “The Ultimate Fighter 22” Finale on Dec. 11.

Nate Diaz vs. Eddie Alvarez: Diaz undoubtedly opened many doors with his upset of McGregor. The 30-year-old Cesar Gracie protégé has performed best as a lightweight -- he holds wins there over Michael Johnson, Donald Cerrone, Jim Miller and Takanori Gomi -- and figures to return to the division now that he has finished his business with McGregor. Diaz will do so on a two-fight winning streak, his stock at an all-time high. A two-time Bellator MMA titleholder, Alvarez eked out a split decision over former UFC champion Anthony Pettis in January and also owns a victory against longtime Diaz training partner Gilbert Melendez.

Miesha Tate vs. Amanda Nunes: Sustained resilience finally paid off for Tate, as she added the signature piece to her career puzzle and captured the UFC women’s bantamweight championship with a fifth-round rear-naked choke submission on Holly Holm. The 29-year-old Xtreme Couture representative was behind on the scorecards entering the final five minutes and pursued the finish like she knew it. Tate has rattled off five straight wins. The submission was her first since she tapped Julie Kedzie with an armbar under the Strikeforce banner on Aug. 18, 2012. Nunes, meanwhile, continued her climb on the 135-pound ladder with a unanimous decision over Valentina Shevchenko.

Holly Holm vs. Ronda Rousey: Holm experienced a bitterness only fallen champions know. In her first appearance since dethroning Rousey with a head kick at UFC 193, “The Preacher’s Daughter” herself became a victim. Ahead on all three scorecards entering the fifth round, Holm made one mistake, allowed Tate to advance to her back and succumbed to a rear-naked choke with 90 seconds to go in their co-main event. In an instant, the championship she had won less than four months ago belonged to someone else. Rousey has not competed since Holm took her place on the bantamweight throne on Nov. 15.

Siyar Bahadurzada vs. Tom Breese: In his first appearance since December 2013, Bahadurzada used all his tools to get past Brandon Thatch on the undercard. There, the 31-year-old welterweight put an end to a two-fight losing streak, as he submitted Thatch with a third-round arm-triangle choke. A former Shoot champion, Bahadurzada evened his record in the UFC at 2-2. Breese has started his career with 10 consecutive victories, nine of them finishes. The Tristar Gym prospect last fought at UFC Fight Night “Silva vs. Bisping” on Feb. 27, when he earned a unanimous decision over Keita Nakamura in London.


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