-- It's rare in the world of combat sports that one fight between two combatants could produce such a long list of winners simply because of the result.
But Conor McGregor's gutsy majority decision win over Nate Diaz in their rematch on Saturday in Las Vegas had quite a ripple effect across the board. It was also a surefire fight of the year, capturing the attention of the entire sports world.
Let's take a look, in order, at the five biggest winners from an exciting UFC 202 main event.
1. Conor McGregor's legacy
Make no mistake -- this was a must-win fight for McGregor because of the audacious nature in which he was attempting to script his legend. The more trash you talk in the fight game and bold risks you take in matchmaking, the more you are expected to back it up. Give McGregor credit for the manner in which he did so, especially considering he was essentially doubling down on the original gamble of fighting two divisions above his own weight class, where he still holds the UFC title.
The impact of consecutive defeats to the same fighter can be damaging to both your brand and your psyche as an elite fighter. One can only imagine what the next-day reaction would have been had Round 3 gone even 10 seconds longer, with an exhausted McGregor pinned against the cage on the verge of giving away a second fight to Diaz after dominating early. But McGregor ultimately showcased two key intangibles in the victory that won't be forgotten: his toughness to dig deep and find a second wind and his ability to patiently execute a smart game plan while minimizing exposure to his own vulnerabilities.
2. The UFC
It had been a rough two months of public relations for the UFC following its recent $4 billion sale, largely because of a string of high-profile doping violations. And with the company at a bit of a deficit in terms of star power, Saturday was a big win for the UFC's new owners as they look to grow the brand and recoup their investment. A damaging loss to McGregor, regardless of the fact that he remains the 145-pound champion, would have knocked the company's most important star down a peg. Instead, the way in which the fight played out not only illuminated McGregor's star that much more, it may have created a new one. Diaz, long the UFC's anti-hero, showed incredible heart to rally multiple times through a bloody and busted up face and a badly bruised right leg. Considering how many UFC champions have been upset this calendar year, securing an incredibly lucrative third fight between McGregor and Diaz was a best-case scenario for the company.
3. Nate Diaz's wallet
A great deal of the buildup was focused on Diaz's long and winding road to the elite level and how the rivalry with McGregor had brought him the exposure and opportunity he had long deserved. Most importantly, it also brought him cash -- lots of it, in fact, helped by his stubbornness at the negotiating table now that leverage was finally on his side. Diaz may have lost on Saturday in a decision many felt could have been at least a draw, but he won out in a much bigger way by securing a third fight with McGregor. There simply isn't another fight out there that could bring Diaz the type of money and fanfare as a trilogy. It also wouldn't have been available to him had he won. I'm not sure you can call this loss a moral victory, but it may have been the best thing that could have happened to his career at this point.
4. The fans
Sometimes you just need a great fight to remind you how great the sport can be at the highest level. That was exactly what UFC 202 provided on Saturday, crossing over to the masses and captivating audiences of all kinds with seemingly endless swings of momentum and high drama that lasted until the moment the decision was read. The fight was bloody, brutal and inspiring at the same time, proving that regardless of weight -- and McGregor stated afterward he prefers a third fight be contested at 155 pounds -- these two were simply made for each other when it comes to producing excitement in the cage. They delivered during the wild buildup, which featured circus elements of bottle throwing and WWE-like banter, and they exceeded expectations on fight night. This was one of those nights in which it just felt great to be a fan.
5. The featherweight division
When McGregor pleaded his case late Saturday that a third fight be contested at lightweight, he teased the notion that maybe it would also be for the title. The comment fuels speculation that McGregor is done at featherweight and could be headed toward a 155-pound title fight with Eddie Alvarez, who has been more than vocal about supporting the idea. Let's not forget, this whole McGregor-Diaz rivalry began when McGregor boldly challenged then-lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos ahead of UFC 196 before an injury to dos Anjos opened the door for Diaz to replace him on late notice.
McGregor is smart enough to realize he doesn't have much to gain by running back a difficult rematch against interim featherweight champion Jose Aldo. Whether McGregor's 13-second knockout win last December was a fluke or not, it would be impossible for him to do any better. So being forced to drop the UFC's 145-pound title, which Dana White indicated would need to happen should McGregor not immediately return to featherweight, is a victory for those in the division who have been waiting around for their turn. While losing McGregor would eliminate a major payday for featherweights, it would also eliminate the need for an interim belt and the feel that McGregor is holding the division hostage as he moonlights in higher weight classes. For a red-hot fighter like Max Holloway, for example, who has been held out of the title picture despite riding a nine-fight win streak dating back to his 2013 loss to McGregor, some clarity and structure within the division would be welcome.