LAS VEGAS – With a pair of rear naked chokes that finished two celebrated champions, Nate Diaz and Miesha Tate both accomplished the improbable in a pair of sport-shaking victories at UFC 196.
Diaz forced Conor McGregor to tap out with 48 seconds left in the second round Saturday night, ending the Irish superstar’s 15-fight winning streak in a non-title bout.
Tate won the UFC bantamweight title at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, locking Holly Holm in a choke that rendered the champ apparently unconscious with 90 seconds left in the fifth round.
Diaz (20-10) was battered and bloodied for the first 1½ rounds by McGregor (19-3), the UFC 145-pound (65 kg) featherweight champ and pay-per-view star fighting at 170 pounds (77 kg) on short notice.
Diaz, who took the fight less than two weeks ago, abruptly changed the bout with an electric series of punches that wobbled the previously unshakable McGregor. When McGregor tried a takedown, Diaz quickly forced him to tap out on the ground.
“I thought I landed with some good punches that got him off (his game),” Diaz said in one of his few post-fight comments not punctuated by exuberant profanity. “I started off slow, but I’m faster than anyone later on. My jiu-jitsu is always there for me.”
Earlier, Tate (18-5) became the third 135-pound (61 kg) champion in UFC history by beating Holm (10-1), the woman who knocked out Ronda Rousey in November. Holm appeared to be out cold when Tate finally released her from the choke to celebrate.
“Not many people wouldn’t tap out,” Tate said. “She went out like a champion.”
The back-to-back upsets thrilled a sellout crowd and a huge pay-per-view audience, but they also threw two potential wrenches into the UFC’s plans for the upcoming year. McGregor is widely expected to fight in the main event at UFC 200 in July, while Holm’s next fight was supposed to be her rematch with Ronda Rousey, who has already beaten Tate twice.