UFC 196 was a colossal success on pay per view, pulling a phenomenal 1.5 million buys. The reason for the huge number: Conor McGregor.
The Irishman was making his debut at Welterweight after successfully unifying the Featherweight Championship in his previous bout at UFC 194.
The MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada played host to McGregor challenging Nate Diaz in the card's headliner. However, the step-up in weight was to prove a bridge too far for McGregor and he was submitted via rear-naked choke inside two rounds.
"Notorious" clearly won round one with his typically aggressive striking, but blew himself up and noticeably tired in the second round which allowed Diaz, who was much heavier and durable than McGregor's previous opponents, to take advantage when McGregor faded. It was a stunning result and set up an even more successful rematch inside the Octagon at UFC 202 five months later.
However, UFC 196 was not just a one-fight show. There was a huge Women's Bantamweight battle between reigning champion, Holly Holm (who had shockingly snapped Ronda Rousey's title reign and undefeated streak at UFC 193) defending against the experienced Miesha Tate.
In a five-round epic, Tate pulled out a hard-fought victory and earned a stunning title win. For the majority of the right, Holm outgunned Tate standing, but Tate's conservative approach protected her from being knocked out like Rousey and finally, she was able to sink in a choke which caused the champion to pass out. Incredible!
In contrast to the top two fights, the Light-Heavyweight battle between Ilir Latifi and Gian Villante was a dull affair. The judges scored it 30-27 for Latifi, but in truth, this was a three-round bout that offered little in the way of entertainment or excitement.
Another Light-Heavyweight fight between Corey Anderson and Tom Lawler was more memorable but for the wrong reasons. Lawlor dominated Anderson particularly in the first round and yet was the loser with scores of 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28, which was an insane score that the Vegas crowd loudly booed and rightly so.
The opening fight saw rising star Amanda Nunes clash with Valentina Shevchenko. It was another bout which went the full distance. Nunes punched herself out and was lucky she wasn't caught out in the final round as she had so little gas left in the tank. Shevchenko started the bout slowly and never recovered. Nunes would develop far, far more as a fighter in the years after this fight. Nunes edged this one, 29-28, 29-27 and 29-27.
UFC 196 was a card of two halves, with the top bouts, particularly the Women's Bantamweight and the headliner hugely entertaining affairs. It was certainly a huge success at the box office and on pay per view for UFC and was one of the better shows of a very busy 2016.