The UFC was rocked on Saturday night, as it often is, with some insane upsets. Both Connor McGregor and Holly Holm, who entered UFC 196 as heavy favorites, were taken down via submission. Nate Diaz and Miesha Tate were respectively looked at as dangerous threats prior to the fights, but few thought they would actually pull off the unexpected.

McGregor Stunner

The weird thing is there was absolutely evidence of looming upsets. McGregor was giving up size and weight to the bigger Diaz and he was fighting in a weight class that had him more vulnerable that many were willing to admit. McGregor admitted as much after the fight, admitting that someone of Diaz’s size and strength could take more than the usual handful of punches that somewhat in his previous class would take.

McGregor did not fail to impress initially. He left Diaz with a bloodied face and, just as we alluded to, he made Diaz work for the win. But the main issue was going to be Diaz’s size and ability to take more than one punch. McGregor was accustomed to dropping lesser opponents with one blow or just a handful of solid punches. Diaz took more work and ultimately McGregor tired out and was over-matched. That doesn’t mean McGregor can’t beat Diaz or move up in weight class, but it certainly suggests he may find dominating that next level quite difficult.

Needless to say, it shouldn’t surprise anyone to see Notorious to drop back down to the level that made him famous. The loss was shocking and huge for the sport, but in a lot of ways it wasn’t all that surprising. Thankfully for McGregor this was not a title fight and he can return home, lick his wounds and bounce back in a title match the next time he hits the cage. Provided it’s a strong opponent and he wins convincingly, Mystic Mac should win back the respect of the MMA world. That being said, McGregor was exposed to a certain degree and the betting odds could be a little more even in his matches going forward.

Short-Lived Title Run

Holly Holm is a very different story, as her bout with Tate was for the women’s bantamweight title and she lost it via a rear choke hold in what ended up being a very gritty battle. But that is precisely what we knew could happen – if Tate simply stayed patient and picked her spots, she’d have a chance to dethrone the new champ. After all, when you look at Tate’s two previous battles with former champion Ronda Rousey, she lost quickly in one due to a bad move and an excellent counter-move by Rousey, and the other she actually pushed Rousey into the second round before slipping up again.

Two big things to take away from this one: Holm needs to work on her ground game and countering, while Tate’s experience and patience finally paid off. She has endured some really intense battles with both Rousey and Cat Zingano and perhaps because of losses in those three matches, she wasn’t getting the credit she deserved. As it turns out, she went in with an excellent game plan and performed it perfectly. Holm didn’t, and we now have a new champ.

It’s tough to figure out what is bigger here: Tate’s rise back up to steal back the title, or Holm’s insanely fast fall. Was Holm’s rise a fluke? Should she have waited for the surley insanely hyped rematch with Rousey?

I don’t think her rise was a fluke, no. She was quite impressive in dismantling opponents en route to a 9-0 MMA start before destroying Rousey in her first title bout. In a lot of ways that could have been more about Rousey being ill prepared or over confident, but Holm was the superior boxer and Rousey engaged with that skill-set far too much – especially considering Rousey’s boxing isn’t even close to most MMA fighters – let alone a former boxing and kickboxing champion.

The difference between Rousey and Tate here was patience and systematic restraint. Tate saw the flaws Rousey displayed in her epic loss, and she simply turned the tables. Holm is technically sound, but she doesn’t have the raw viciousness or submission skills Rousey sported. She also wasn’t a master technician or counter artist like Rousey is. Tate exploited Holm’s weaknesses to her advantage and didn’t get caught up in over-engaging her in a straight up fist fight.

What’s Next?

As we mentioned with McGregor, life goes on. He’ll bounce back with a title fight at his own weight class and chances are for the short-term he’ll still be a dominant force in the UFC. McGregor didn’t apologize for taking the Diaz fight (and the cash), as he knew full well what he was getting into and was simply up for the challenge:

“I stormed in and put it all on the line. I took a shot and missed. I will never apologize for taking a shot. S— happens. I’ll take this loss like a man. I will not shy away from it. I will not change who I am. If another champion goes up two weights let me know. If you’re tired of me talking money, take a nap.”

Where the MMA world shakes is on the women’s side.

A Rousey vs. Holm rematch loses it’s luster and falls into the background. What’s next is a battle between Tate and Rousey, who as the original former champ should get the first crack at the title once she’s cleared to fight. She is still serving a six-month UFC-imposed vacation due to injuries she suffered in her loss to Holm, but that fight should come as early as this summer.

We can’t look past that fight. That would end up being the third fight between Rousey and Tate and we need to consider two things: Rousey could be looking past this match at Holm, while there’s no doubt Tate will badly want to avoid an 0-3 hole against a fighter that has terrorized her thus far. Rousey should be on a bigger mission to redeem herself after suffering her first loss ever, however, so it’s tough to imagine her going 0-2 here and failing at getting a rematch with Holm. Of course, when both fights do roll around, don’t be shocked if like the next McGregor fight, the odds are a little more even.

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