UFC 202 will go down as one of the best cards of the last several years. The buildup and hype surrounding the Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz rematch was legendary, and they definitely put on a show. McGregor was able to put that first loss behind him for the time being, and move on to either the featherweight or the lightweight division.
However, Conor wasn't the big winner of the weekend. Though he had the largest payday on the card, there were other fighters who made huge climbs in the rankings. After leveraging these wins, they could be serious contenders within the UFC.
The first major winner from UFC 202 was Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone. Since moving to the welterweight division, he has found nothing but success. Heading into UFC 202, Cowboy had two straight fights at 170 and two Performance of the Night Awards.
UFC 202 was no different.
Cowboy took on No. 9 Rick Story on the main card fight and came out on fire. He finished the fight with a spectacular combination that rocked Story and earned Cerrone his third, straight Performance of the Night Award. Cerrone climbed seven spots to No. 7 and Story dropped to No. 10. Though he is surging in the welterweight division, Cowboy has called out UFC Lightweight Champion Eddie Alvarez, whom he has previously beaten. With his recent run of success, he may be able to argue for a title shot. Though he is on the final fight of his UFC contract, it's been reported that he has signed a new eight-fight contract.
Speaking of UFC contracts, Lorenz Larkin was on his last fight of his current contract when he took on No. 7 welterweight Neil Magny. Magny had won 10 of his last 11 fights, making him no easy opponent for the unranked Larkin. However, Lorenz lit up Magny with front push kicks, blows to the body and head strikes to finish the fight in the first round. Larkin climbed to No. 9 in the rankings after his performance, and could use that impressive win to get another contract with the UFC, or increase his pay for another promotion.
Cody Garbrandt may not have surged up the rankings, but he has set up his future in the UFC beautifully. He squared off with then No. 11, Takeya Mizugaki, and made quick work of the UFC veteran. He constantly pressured Mizugaki and landed blow after blow before dropping him to the canvas in under a minute.
Garbrandt's climb up the rankings wasn't amazing, moving from No. 8 to No. 6, but what this win means for him is significant. He has called out both Bantamweight champion, Dominick Cruz and the top contender, TJ Dillashaw. However, he used his post-fight interview to say he wants the next title fight. Cruz, who was working for Fox Sports, definitely entertained the idea. Garbrandt may have just booked himself a shot at the title with his UFC 202 performance.