By Patrick Tedder
Spoilers follow as this is a recap of the event from last night. Also, I must confess, no one has edited this, so I hope it’s not terrible :(.
If you missed UFC 202, you missed one hell of a treat. This was one of the best UFC main event pay-per-views that I’ve seen in some time, crowned as one of the best by the epic final match between the “The King” Connor McGregor and Nate Diaz.
But first, let’s talk about the fights before the two main events.
1. Tim Means def. Sabah Homasi by TKO. While Homasi was the fighter I was rooting for because of his flashy nature, Means, the more boring fighter, was also the sounder fighter. Means wasn’t having Homasi and this wasn’t close, but it was entertaining to see Homasi’s balls to the wall style.
2. Mike Perry def. Hyun Gyu Lim by TKO. Perry was dwarfed by Gyu and yet he picked his spots and managed to take down his tall and lanky opponent. It was impressive to see Perry step up and almost instantly make a name for himself in this fight. He’ll be one to watch as an upcoming potential UFC star.
3. Donald Cerrone def. Rick Story by TKO. “The Cowboy” was on his game. He looked like he was in great shape and in his element at his fighting weight. He’s always been a fan favorite and he’s looking at a title fight if he can keep this up.
4. Anthony Johnson def. Glover Teixeira by KO. Have you ever seen Mike Tyson box in his prime? That’s what Johnson was imitating and it was scary. Johnson knocked out his opponent in such fashion that Teixeira had no idea where he was. It was the kind of knockout where if the fight was in a cartoon, Teixeira would have had birds flying around his head. Will anyone be able to stop Johnson? Mark your calendars for his next match.
And, now … the match that everyone was tuning in for and the match McGregor was obsessed with having. Having been taken down in bad fashion in his first match against Diaz, McGregor was taken down a peg from looking unstoppable to questioning what he was going to do next. Putting it all on the line in a battle of both ego and to reclaim his dominance, McGregor demanded a rematch with time to fully train and prepare for his opponent.
Fighting at 170, a good 20 pounds or more than either man is used to fighting at, it was unclear whether McGregor would have the cardio to keep up with Diaz and whether or not he could take Diaz’s brutal punches.
Round 1. McGregor, like the last fight came out calculated and in control. It was clear he was not going to be taken out in the same fashion as the last fight. He controlled Diaz with continuous leg kicks, so many that Diaz quickly began to limp and his leg looked ugly. McGregor took this round and looked great, just like he did in the last match.
Round 2. McGregor continued with kicks and landed fantastic shots to the face of Diaz, opening him up early, but then near the end of the match, McGregor started to fade just like the last match. It was puzzling given how McGregor appeared to be controlling the pace, but the Irish king managed to slip and slide when he needed.
Round 3. Diaz smelled blood and went after his opponent with tons of shots. To McGregor’s credit, whenever it came to grappling, he was not going to be taken down by Diaz and remained upright against the cage forcing Diaz to search for openings that weren’t there. McGregor continued to look depleted and things were not looking good for “Mac” fans.
Round 4. As if brought back to life, McGregor landed big shots, and by now both men were barely holding on.
Round 5. The big money round. Both men were spent, trading erratic and dangerous shots. Tension was thick as either man could go down by TKO or tap out given the exhaustion. McGregor continued to look at the clock and would escape Diaz as he tried to regain his breath. Diaz landed a takedown in the final moments of the match, but it would be too little too late.
The main event was a classic, plain and simple. It had a fantastic story leading up to it and both men left everything in the octagon. McGregor, as masterful as he is, had a hell of a time fighting Diaz. In many moments, it looked like McGregor had to desperately stick to his strategy or risk defeat at practically any instance.
While I’m not entirely sure I would have given the fight to McGregor, the judges did. If Diaz didn’t like it, he should have stopped McGregor and removed any control from the judges. The fight was so good that really it could have gone to either man and it would have been hard to argue with. Plus, this way, we’re able to get the “trilogy match” that will pit McGregor and Diaz against each other at a lower weight class. For now, the “King” has returned and grasped the redemption he was looking for.