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Original Issue

Choke Job

UFC gambles and loses

IN NOVEMBER, Holly Holm poleaxed Ronda Rousey in one of the great UFC upsets, winning the bantamweight belt. The obvious play: Allow Rousey to recover and then make a high-stakes rematch. Instead the UFC pitted Holm against Miesha Tate at UFC 196 last Saturday. The underdog won via a rear-naked choke (top) and now the future is considerably cloudier.

In December, Conor McGregor poleaxed Jose Aldo in one of the great UFC upsets, winning the featherweight belt. McGregor's attempt to hold two belts simultaneously at UFC 196 was scuttled when his opponent, lightweight champ Rafael dos Anjos, suffered a foot injury. The obvious play: reschedule the fight. But the UFC pitted McGregor against 170-pounder Nick Diaz. The underdog won via a rear-naked choke and now the future is considerably cloudier.

Befitting an organization based in Las Vegas, the UFC operates with the caution of a whale at a blackjack table. Sometimes it cashes in. Other times it craps out. Stay tuned for the next roll....

PHOTO

JOSH HEDGES/ZUFFA LLC/GETTY IMAGES (HOLM)

PHOTO

REY DEL RIO/GETTY IMAGES (MCGREGOR)