UFC 196 – IT’S ARRIVED!
As the sports industry and attendant media alongside an ever expanding fan base continues to grow, this phenomenon has only intensified. UFC 196 promises to be the biggest ever.
The card is a must-see affair topped by two huge fights in Conor McGregor vs. Nate Diaz in a non title fight and Holly Holm vs. Miesha Tate for the Bantamweight Title.
The full lineup of announced fights is as follows:
- Nate Diaz vs Conor McGregor
- Holly Holm vs. Miesha Tate
- Corey Anderson vs. Tom Lawlor
- Erick Silva vs. Nordine Taleb
- Darren Elkins vs. Chas Skelly
- Diego Sanchez vs. Jim Miller
- Amanda Nunes vs. Valentina Shevchenko
- Justin Salas vs. Jason Saggo
- Ilir Latifi vs. Gian Villante
- Vitor Miranda vs. Marcelo Guimaraes
There are a number of interesting matchups, here’s a sneak peek of what to expect on fight night.
Ilir Latifi vs. Gian Villante: Both contenders have serious knockout power and own a number of major wins over credible names, but they have suffered ill-timed losses on their rise up the rankings. As relatively young members of the UFC light heavyweight division, these two should be getting slowly developed en route to the title. Instead, one of them will suffer yet another major setback.
Vitor Miranda vs. Marcelo Guimaraes: Vitor Miranda has looked like a killer since dropping back down to 185 pounds after a run on The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 3 as a heavyweight. The UFC is looking to get his hype train moving by giving him a more than manageable opponent in Marcel Guimaraes.
Justin Salas vs. Jason Saggo: The UFC is taking a good look at Saggo, while Salas’ place in the UFC is clear after four years of alternating wins and losses. We’ll see if Saggo is an actual developing talent or if he is doomed to wash out of the big leagues at UFC 196.
Diego Sanchez vs. Jim Miller: The “Fight Pass Main Event” fight is the greatest testament there is to how much better off the UFC is after the Reebok deal. A few months back, Sanchez vs. Miller wouldn’t have happened because both fighters, established veterans with a number of sponsors, would have resisted due to the hits to their wallets. By taking sponsors away from fighters, it can book anybody, anywhere. Oh, the fight? Tough call. Miller likely has more left in the tank, but Sanchez is a master of tricking judges into giving him a win.
Amanda Nunes vs. Valentina Shevchenko: Valentina Shevchenko surprised many by upsetting Sarah Kaufman in her UFC debut, and there are reasons to be excited about her moving forward. Unfortunately, she is set to face Amanda Nunes in her sophomore effort. That’s pretty much the worst match the UFC could have set up.
Darren Elkins vs. Chas Skelly: Chas Skelly is on a solid four-fight winning streak, and the UFC wants to know if he is top-15 material. The best way to do so? Match him up with veteran wrestler Darren Elkins. If Skelly can get through Elkins, he’s a serious player at 145 pounds. If not? Well, better luck next time.
Erick Silva vs. Nordine Taleb: The cycle continues. Once again, Erick Silva was thrown into the welterweight division’s deep end, and once again, he was found wanting. As is tradition, the UFC is giving the Brazilian a golden opportunity to get back into the win column against an unremarkable Nordine Taleb.
Division: Light Heavyweight
Records: Corey Anderson (7-1 MMA, 4-1 UFC) vs. Tom Lawlor (10-5 MMA, 6-4 UFC)
A fan favorite looking to make a comeback. A promising young fighter looking to pick up a big win. One man will achieve new heights. The other will smash into the proverbial wall.
Which fighter will be which? That’s tough to decide.
Tom Lawlor has scored some big wins over his career and has managed to become a hot act with his wacky weigh-ins and walk-outs, but he never really gathered legitimate momentum due to a combination of injuries and poorly timed (and often controversial) losses. An unfortunate series of tweaks, tears and pulls shelved him for a full two years, and while that felt tragic at the time, that break gave him something of a fresh start in the UFC.
When he finally returned to the cage, he impressed fans by starching Gian Villante after jumping up to 205 pounds. That win was enough to breathe life into his career and get him some second looks as a light-heavyweight contender.
Corey Anderson doesn’t have Lawlor’s popularity, but what he does have is youth and a strong record. The TUF 19 winner is 4-1 in the UFC, and on his age and talent alone, he has a bright future in the 205-pound division. At the moment, however, he has failed to move the needle despite solid wins over fringe top-10 names like Fabio Maldonado and Jan Blachowicz.
That could change with a win over a name like Tom Lawlor.
Both fighters have some glaring holes in their games but plenty of legitimate skills. This one will come down to whether or not Anderson has developed enough to take on a solid, stylistically similar veteran. In terms of predictions, this is a time to bet on youth over experience.
Prediction: Corey Anderson def. Tom Lawlor by unanimous decision
Records: Holly Holm (10-0 MMA, 3-0 UFC) vs. Miesha Tate (17-5 MMA, 4-2 UFC)
Miesha Tate is a familiar face but something of an unknown commodity these days. Despite being best known for her losing efforts against Ronda Rousey, Cupcake has long been one of the top fighters in the division, and the recent improvements to her striking game make her a difficult challenge for any woman in the UFC, bantamweight champ Holly Holm included.
While Holm’s striking pedigree is second to none in the UFC today, Tate has an uncanny ability to force opponents into her style of fight. Even Rousey was dragged into a scramble-heavy, frenetic bout instead of a pure grappling match. That makes Tate an interesting challenge for Holm, no matter what the betting lines may suggest.
Tate has improved in the striking department to the point where she survives on the feet with Holm, but there’s no way she can come out on top in a prolonged stand-up war. If she can keep things close and force Holm to spend most of her time along the fence or on the ground, she might be able to pull off the upset.
Obviously, that’s a tight rope she will be forced to walk, but a victory wouldn’t be as huge an upset as it would seem. Of course, the most likely outcome remains
Prediction: Holly Holm def. Miesha Tate by KO
Conor McGregor Vs Nate Diaz
With a lightweight championship fight off the table, Conor McGregor has opted to move up two weight classes and now will meet Nate Diaz in a non-title welterweight fight at UFC 196 on March 5.
The fight, which will be contested at 170 pounds, will headline the UFC 196 pay-per-view event scheduled to take place at MGM Grand Garden Arena.
The current 145-pound champion, McGregor (19-2) was originally scheduled to challenge defending 155-pound champion Rafael dos Anjos (25-7) on March 5, but that bout fell through when dos Anjos officially withdrew with a broken foot Tuesday. He is expected to be sidelined six to eight weeks.
Diaz (18-10), a longtime lightweight, is coming off a decision win against Michael Johnson on Dec. 19. Because the event is less than two weeks away, the two sides agreed to meet at 170 pounds rather than 155 or a catchweight. It will be McGregor’s first career appearance at that weight. Diaz is 2-2 as a welterweight.
Fighting out of Dublin, McGregor, 27, won the UFC featherweight championship Dec. 19, when he knocked out longtime king Jose Aldo with a left hook in 13 seconds, the fastest finish in UFC title fight history. McGregor is 7-0 in the UFC with six knockouts.
Had the dos Anjos bout held up, McGregor would have attempted to become the first fighter in UFC history to simultaneously hold titles in multiple weight classes. He had expressed interest in eventually fighting for the promotion’s welterweight title as well.
The UFC explored multiple options once dos Anjos fell off. According to White, offers were extended to former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar and Aldo, neither of whom could accept. Edgar is dealing with a groin injury, and Aldo’s coach, Andre Pederneiras, told Brazilian news outlets that Aldo wouldn’t be ready on such short notice.
White explained how Diaz ended up with the fight.
“We called Jose Aldo; Jose Aldo turned the fight down,” he said. “We called Frankie Edgar; Frankie Edgar turned the fight down. Those are two guys everybody was talking about.
“A lot of guys wanted this fight, but we ended up with Nate Diaz. We felt this was the fight to make and the fight the fans wanted to see.”
Diaz, of Stockton, California, is a former lightweight title challenger. He fought then-champion Benson Henderson in December 2012, coming up short via unanimous decision.
Prediction – Wont last a round and will be another disappointing headline act. There’s a solid reason why Diaz was the third phone call, and another reason nobody answered. KO McGregor