When the UFC touches down at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, the company's long-withstanding policy of putting on the toughest, best fights and displaying its top stars whenever possible will come to the forefront once again.
UFC 196 has co-main events slated for March 5 2016, which will feature Featherweight Champion Conor McGregor's showdown with fill-in fighter Nate Diaz in a non-title bout at 170 lbs. The second main event sees Holly Holm (David to Ronda's Goliath) defend her bantamweight title for the first time against Miesha Tate at 135 lbs.
This week's UFC card was supposed to give McGregor an opportunity to fight for the UFC lightweight belt against current champion Rafael Dos Anjos. That fight had to be axed because Dos Anjos broke his foot and will be sidelined until at least May.
That left UFC president Dana White in limbo and desperate to find a fighter to step up against one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the UFC today. Cue Nate Diaz.
In my opinion, Diaz presents a number of problems for McGregor with his length and his immunity to the Irishman's mind games. He has only lost via KO once in his career. And if he can keep it close for five rounds, a decision win is not out of the question.
Over in the other co-main event, Holly Holm was catapulted into the spotlight after beating UFC poster girl Ronda Rousey back in November. In what has been dubbed one of the great upsets in sports history, Holm's KO of Rousey came courtesy of her outstanding boxing and kickboxing skills. While she may have a few weaknesses, her camp insists they are nothing to "worry about" and that Holly will be on top of her game once again despite all the added media attention and pressure.
Holm's opponent, Tate, comes into this fight as no slouch. Tate has proven she is a great wrestler and can stand toe-to-toe with some of the sports best female competitors. Her best course of action for winning this fight will be to take the fight to the ground and try to submit Holm. If Tate leaves it up to the judges, it will be tough to claim victory because to be the champion you must beat the champion - clean and clear.
Our friends over at 5Dimes offer some of the best lines available for UFC 196, so let's take a look at some of the best prop bets available.
Conor McGregor Vs Nate Diaz - Tale of the Tape
Conor McGregor (19-2 MMA, 7-0 UFC) - 5-foot-8, 170 lbs, 74-inch reach
Nate Diaz - (19-10 MMA, 13-8 UFC) - 6-feet, 170 lbs, 76-inch reach.
Will the fighters touch gloves before the fight starts?
"Yes" +200, "No" -280
This is just a hunch play, but the line and value is too good to pass up. I have come across a few sources saying how much Diaz respects the work of McGregor. I understand that in a sport this violent, you must be ruthless and have no regard for anyone but yourself pre-fight. However, I think both fighters understand the situation and will touch gloves out of respect.
Respect is definitely due for Nate as he is taking this fight on such short notice, and McGregor's preflight antics (as usual) have been nothing short of awesome. I will give both fighters kudos right now for helping me win this bet and giving a brief second of respect for the sport.
Pick: "Yes" +200
Will the fight start round 2?
" Yes" -172, "No"+142"
As I mentioned already, Diaz has lost via KO only once in is career. While many may think his second KO loss is forthcoming, it will be very unlikely to occur in the first round of this particular fight under theses circumstances. Nate's best bet to surviving this round is potentially getting McGregor on the floor and grind it out slowly and methodically. I can't envision a scenario after all the hoopla surrounding this fight where Nate is reckless and abandons his game plan. I also think the added weight for McGregor will work against him in the early rounds. Show me a boring five minutes and I'll show you a winning ticket.
Pick: "Yes" -172
McGregor moves up two weight classes to the UFC welterweight division for the first time in his career.
McGregor's five-fight UFC knockout streak is tied for second longest in company history behind Liddell (seven)
McGregor's 13-second knockout of Jose Aldo at UFC 194 marked the fastest title-fight stoppage in UFC history.
Diaz's 238 significant strikes landed against Cerrone at UFC 141 stand as the single-fight UFC record.
Diaz's eight submission victories in modern-era UFC competition are tied with Frank Mir for the most in company history.
Miesha Tate Vs. Holly Holm - Tale of the Tape
Meisha Tate (17-5 MMA, 4-2 UFC) - 5-foot-5 inches, 135 lbs, 65-inch reach.
Holly Holm (10-0 MMA, 3-0 UFC) - 5-foot-6 inches, 135 lbs, 69-inch reach.
Holly Holm Wins Inside the Distance
"Yes" +139, "No" -169
You have to like what Holm's did against the most dominant female fighter to ever step foot in the Octagon. She came out, used her strengths, and used Rousey's weaknesses against her. Holly Holm's kickboxing is the best on the women's side. If this fight takes place standing, which I am almost positive it will, look for Holly to score a big KO against one of the weaker stand-up fighters in the division. Holm has already claimed seven KO victories in her 10 career wins. The only possible way Miesha Tate can win this fight is by bringing the fight to the mat and submitting Holm. It probably won't happen considering Holm has never been taken down in a UFC competition.
Pick: "Yes" +139
Will the fight Start Round 3
"Yes" -249 "No" +189
Holly Holm will win this fight. She will KO Miesha Tate and her resume and legend will grow. Many doubters might argue the fact that Holm's got lucky against Rousey as Rousey wasn't fully prepared or took her too lightly. That is complete and utter rubbish. In this sport, you should give 110 percent or you should retire and save your face from taking a massive beating. Holm put in work against Ronda and is the new champion, and rightfully so. She will be looking to build on that success and put in another dominant performance to back up the fact that her last win was no fluke. As I've mentioned twice already, Holm's stand-up game is superb, and with it comes the opportunity to strike at any time. Why I like this particular prop and not "Will Holm win by TKO" is because Miesha Tate is a solid opponent. Tate wants this fight to happen on the mat, but she will not get her way, thus leaving both women susceptible to a KO. All it takes is one solid punch from either woman within the first 10 minutes and this ticket is a winner.
Pick: "No" +189
Holm vs. Tate marks the first UFC women's bantamweight title fight not to feature Ronda Rousey
Holm has earned seven of her 10 career victories by knockout
Tate has earned all four of her UFC victories by decision.
Tate has earned at least one takedown in 13 of her 14 UFC/Strikeforce appearances.
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