Originally, Nate Diaz and Conor McGregor's hotly anticipated welterweight rematch was expected to headline the historic UFC 200. After a series of dramatic SNAFUs, however, the rematch ended up atop UFC 202, which went down Saturday night in glimmering Las Vegas, Nevada.
Supported by appearances from some of the game's biggest names, and highlighted by some incredible knockout wins, the long-awaited card went down as a truly unforgettable one. Here's a recap of the action for those who missed it!
The Main Card:
McGregor Edges Diaz in Instant Classic
After months of trash talk, build-up and drama, we finally got Nate Diaz and Conor McGregor's welterweight rematch in UFC 202's main event. It was well worth the wait.
Much like the first fight, McGregor got the better of the first round, battering his foe to the brink of a stoppage. Much like the first fight, McGregor once again seemed to tire in the second frame, at which point Diaz nearly scored a stoppage of his own. Unlike the first fight, however, we got a third round—and a fourth, and a fifth. Through these final three rounds, the two fighters swapped heavy artillery, painting each other red with kicks, punches, elbows and knees for fifteen, wild minutes, and flaunting boundless quantities of heart as they did so. And though it was certainly a close one, McGregor ultimately walked away the winner, capturing a majority decision to even his score with the younger Diaz brother.
With the win, McGregor assumes a strong overall record of 20-3. And while the world seems to want him to return to featherweight to defend his title, he seems keen on a trilogy fight with Diaz at lightweight. In defeat, Diaz loses for the first time since December 2014. He's now 19-11 overall—a record that is far from indicative of his mountainous talent.
Rumble Uppercut Puts Teixeira Down
The evening's co-main event paired talented finishers Anthony "Rumble" Johnson and Glover Teixeira, the winner of whom would earn a shot at Daniel Cormier's light heavyweight crown. It was over in a blink.
The opening bell chimed, the two men met in the center of the Octagon, Rumble planted a rocket-fuelled uppercut on Glover's chin, and then it was over. The Brazilian came to under the Jumbotron as Rumble threw his hands up in elation.
With the win, Rumble locks up a second date Daniel Cormier, who he lost to back in May of 2015. The absurdly powerful Blackzilians staple is now 22-5 overall, and 6-1 since joining the UFC light heavyweight division. Teixeira, on the other hand, experiences the second stoppage loss of his 30-fight career. He's now 25-5 and 8-3 in the UFC.
Cerrone Lights Up Story for Second-Round TKO
The middle bout of the main card saw long-time welterweight contender Rick Story take on former lightweight title challenger Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone in a compelling welterweight showdown.
Though Story looked like he could be a nightmare matchup for Cerrone, Cerrone instead dominated the fight from bell-to-bell, out-landing his foe from the get-go, and even scoring with an unexpected takedown in the first. The fan favourite sealed the deal with a blistering, second-round combination, handing Story his first strike-induced loss in the process.
With the TKO win, Cowboy moves to 31-7, and improves to 3-0 as a welterweight. That said, in his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan, the Greg Jackson protégé expressed interest in returning to lightweight for a title fight with new champion Eddie Alvarez. Story, meanwhile, has a three-fight win-streak snapped by the loss. He's now 19-9 overall.
Perry Flattens Lim in the First
The main card action continued in the welterweight division as South Korean slugger Hyun Gyu Lim looked to rebound from a 2015 TKO loss to Neil Magny. Lim's opportunity to do so came against debuting knockout artist Mike Perry, who was replacing the injured Sultan Aliev.
Though Perry initially had some issues navigating Lim's sizable reach advantage, he was eventually able to close the distance, and land some of his patented power strikes. From there, it was only a matter of time. After a pair of knockdowns, the American put his South Korean foe down for good at the 3:38 mark.
It's the fifth first-round knockout win on Perry's record, and it moves him to a fantastic 8-0 overall. Needless to say, he immediately stands out as a fighter to watch in the welterweight division. Lim, in contrast, falls onto a two-fight skid. He's now 13-6 overall.
Means Thrashes Homasi for Second-Round TKO
The action began in the welterweight division, as Tim "The Dirty Bird" Means took on debuting TUF veteran Sabah Homasi. Both men looked to build on the momentum of recent, second-round knockout wins.
It was an undeniably steep test for the debuting Homasi, and despite a spirited effort, he didn't pass it. Instead, he was torn to shreds by the elbows, knees and punches of his rangy opponent, and ultimately succumbed to a second-round TKO.
With the win, Means builds on the momentum of a recent knockout of John Howard. He's now 26-7 overall, and 7-3 since returning to welterweight in 2013. Homasi, meanwhile, falls to 11-6 overall. He'll have to wait for his first UFC win.
Garbrandt Smashes Mizugaki in Less than a Minute
The undercard was wrapped up by an intriguing bantamweight bout. In one corner, we had seasoned Japanese veteran Takeya Mizugaki. In the other, we had the undefeated Cody Garbrandt, who was fresh off a destruction of Thomas Almeida. This one was all Garbrandt.
The frenzied exchanges began almost immediately—and that's where the trouble began for Mizugaki. Less than a minute into the fight, he was knocked off his feet by a Garbrandt right hand, and a few ground strikes later, he was out in a heap on the mat. Garbrandt's knockout win occurred at the 48-second mark of the very first round.
With the win, Garbrandt improves to 10-0 overall, and could well have set himself up for a title shot opposite Dominick Cruz—the champion certainly doesn't seem opposed to the idea. Mizugaki, meanwhile, returns to the loss column after a recent defeat of George Roop. He's now 21-10-2 in sum.
Pennington Decisions Phillips in Slow Fight
The final women's bout of the evening came courtesy of the bantamweight division, as middling contenders Raquel Pennington and Elizabeth Phillips looked to build on the momentum of wins over Bethe Correia and Jessamyn Duke respectively.
Though it wasn't especially pretty, this one was all Pennington, who was the stronger and more efficient woman in the clinch and on the mat. By the time the final bell had chimed, the TUF alum had done more than enough to earn a unanimous nod.
With this decision win, Pennington extends her win-streak to three, and assumes an overall record of 8-5. Phillips, meanwhile, falls to 5-4 overall, and now owns a tough Octagon record of 1-3.
Lobov Batters Avila to Unanimous Decision
Long before Nate Diaz and Conor McGregor settled their score in the main event, their teammates, Chris Avila and Artem Lobov met in a featherweight proxy war.
Despite Lobov's infamous inconsistency, he won this one fairly handily, chopping his opponent down with an onslaught of thudding leg kicks—more than enough to capture him a sound, unanimous decision win.
With the win, which is his first in three UFC bouts, the Russian returns to the .500 mark with a 12-12-1 overall record. Avila, meanwhile, has a three fight streak snapped by the loss, and falls short in his UFC debut. He's now 5-3 overall.
Casey Taps Markos in One
The televised prelims began in the women's strawweight division, as "Cast Iron" Cortney Casey looked to build on the momentum of a July TKO over Cristina Stanciu by taking out rising Canadian Randa Markos.
Despite being a slight underdog, Casey came through in a big way in Vegas, locking up an armbar to earn the tap in the first round.
With the win, the American moves onto a two-fight streak, and assumes an overall record of 6-3. Markos, on the other hand, returns to the loss column after a June defeat of Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger. She's now 6-4 overall, and a tough 2-3 in the Octagon.
Larkin Chops Magny Down for First-Round Win
The Fight Pass Prelims were wrapped up by a welterweight scrap between top-15 talents Neil Magny and Lorenz Larkin. Though the odds pegged the streaking Magny as a slight favorite, this one was all Larkin.
The story of this one was Larkin's incredible leg kicks. Within the first minute of the fight, the Riverside, California had pummeled Magny's lead leg into a useless pillar of flesh. When a desperate Magny shot in for an ill-advised takedown, Larkin then finished things off with a series of hammer-fists and elbows to the side of his foe's head. The end came at the 4:08 mark of round one.
With the TKO win, Larkin builds on the momentum of a recent decision win over Jorge Masvidal. He's now 18-5 overall, and 4-1 since dropping to welterweight. Magny, meanwhile, returns to the loss column after an unforgettable come-from-behind defeat of Hector Lombard. Like Larkin, he now sits at 18-5 overall.
Covington Wrestles Griffin to Third-Round TKO
After a dominant win over Jonathan Meunier back in June, Californian welterweight Colby Covington looked to construct a two-fight win-streak with a Vegas victory over the debuting Max Griffin.
As he has done in so many of his previous bouts, Covington won this fight with his incredible wrestling skill. Grounding his foe in the first round, the American Top Team rep went on to amass more than 10 minutes of control time and land nearly 178 total strikes—which would ultimately earn him a third round TKO.
With the win, Covington moves onto a two-fight streak. He's now 10-1 overall. Griffin, on the other hand, has a two-fight streak snapped and is now 12-3 in sum.
Vettori Taps Uda for Successful UFC Debut
The action began in the middleweight division, as 22-year-old Italian prospect Marvin Vettori debuted opposite Brazil's Alberto Uda.
It was a beautiful debut for Vettori. After reversing an early Uda takedown, the Italian locked up a head and arm guillotine choke for the win. The victory, which marks the tenth first-round finish of his career, moves him to 11-2 overall. Uda, meanwhile, finds himself on a 2-fight skid with a 9-2 overall record.
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