UFC 202 took fight fans through a roller coaster and left many with one thought: “I gotta see more!”
That was probably because 1) Many fights ended insanely quickly, and 2) Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz have to settle the score in a rubber match.
It really was a crazy event, and one that we learned plenty from. Here are some takeaways from the classic UFC 202 card.
Garbrant is a UFC star in the making
Cody Garbrant just showed us why he’s the future of the UFC’s bantamweight division. He just beat veteran Takeya Mizugaki in just 48 seconds, improving his unbeaten record to 10-0. That makes it 9 finishes in 10 wins for the 25-year-old. Whether you think he’s ready to take on the champ Dominick Cruz or not, there’s no doubt that he’s the must-watch fighter of the UFC’s 135lbs division.
Donald Cerrone makes for a killer welterweight
Those striking combos that Cerrone, a perennial lightweight contender, put on welterweight opponent Rick Story were just poetry in motion. He’s now 3-0 as a UFC welterweight, with all those wins coming via KO/TKO stoppage. Not bad for a guy who once planned to move down to featherweight.
“Rumble” was made to destroy things
13 seconds–that’s all it took for Anthony “Rumble” Johnson to KO fellow heavy-hitter Glover Teixeira. It was a brutal finish, but it wasn’t the first time he’s ended a fight this quickly. In his UFC debut in 2007, he did the same to Chad Reiner, knocking him out in 13 seconds as well. And get this: 11 out of Johnson’s 13 UFC wins have come via TKO/ KO. He’s also the only fighter to score 5 KOs in under a minute in the UFC. That’s a jaw-dropping stat, literally.
Diaz is one of the most high-volume strikers in the game
Diaz and McGregor combined for 330 significant strikes in their UFC 202 main event, which is the second most in promotion history. Which fight had the most significant strikes? Nate Diaz vs. Donald Cerrone at UFC 141 with 334.
Diaz’s weakness is in his legs
Attacking Diaz’s legs has proven effective by Rafael Dos Anjos, Josh Thomson, Ben Henderson, and now, Conor McGregor. That wide boxing stance really exposes his lead leg to nasty kicks, and McGregor was able to land 40 significant leg strikes in their bout, which was more than likely a factor in his win.
Proper training can narrow a deficit
Diaz has the height, reach, weight, and UFC experience advantage over McGregor. He also had the comfort of knowing that he can beat the Irishman. But McGregor made the right adjustments in camp and stayed patient inside the cage. It wasn’t the most convincing decision win, but it was a win nonetheless, and one he earned through proper training.
McGregor’s hands are heavy AF
We all knew McGregor has hands of stone from his previous KO wins in the cage, but seeing him knock Diaz down thrice in their rematch with punches in the pocket show that he doesn’t have to put everything into his punches to knock you on your butt. And note that Diaz has only lost via TKO/ KO once in his career, which is a testament to his chin.
Diaz and McGregor’s star power is undeniable
Their first fight at UFC 196 made a gate of approximately $8,100,000. UFC 202? It made a gate of $7,692,010, which is the 5th highest gate in UFC history. Each man also took home big bucks after the rematch: Diaz left with 2 million dollars, McGregor banked 3 million.
McGregor can also be credited for some of the UFC’s top earning events. He has now headlined 4 cards that have earned north of $7 million in his fights with Jose Aldo, Chad Mendez, and his two bouts with Diaz.
These UFC stars are now the biggest names in the sport, and they’re bound to lock horns a third time down the road.
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