It’s the rematch nobody expected, but UFC 200 is looking like the place it’ll go down…
Well, who expected to see this bombshell dropped this week? Not even two weeks have passed since Nate Diaz dispatched Conor McGregor in the UFC 196 main event, and already the promotion is working to book the rematch at UFC 200. The Stockton bad boy Diaz submitted McGregor after a thrilling slugfest at the March 5 pay-per-view extravaganza, exposing the holes in the Irish boxer’s game both on the feet and on the canvas. McGregor, it seemed, had been temporarily debunked.
With the hype surrounding ‘The Notorious’ remaining steadfast due to the fight being at welterweight, it looked as though he was being sent back to featherweight to defend the title that had been put on hold by his quest for two belts. After Rafael dos Anjos was injured and removed from the UFC 196 card, the reason the fight with Diaz was at welterweight was because Nate refused to cut down to lightweight on just 11 days notice.
So a highly unnecessary yet entertaining bout was born at the floating weight of 170 pounds, and fair play to McGregor for taking the loss on the chin in the post fight stages. But then the news broke just last night that the UFC was looking to book the rematch at their next landmark PPV show, and at welterweight too. The news was met with confusion, anticipation, and outrage from various corners of the MMA community, as many believed and hoped that the featherweight title would once again become active.
We can think of five reasons that the UFC shoud have avoided Conor McGregor vs. Nate Diaz 2.
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The former UFC featherweight champion deserves a rematch, whether you are a fan of his fighting style/comments against the UFC or not, he was the original and most dominant featherweight fighter to date. The 13-second knockout that McGregor scored over ‘Scarface’ at UFC 194 last December was no doubt impressive, but it left far too many questions unanswered for this to be a done deal.
In booking McGregor vs. Diaz 2, the promotion is causing all kinds of offense to some very legitimate contenders, none more so that Jose Aldo, which leads nicely to the next point.
For crying out loud, will someone please give Frankie Edgar a title fight? Outside of the ex-champion Jose Aldo, former lightweight boss and top featherweight contender Frankie Edgar is the biggest fight at 145 pounds for McGregor. With wins over UFC legends BJ Penn and Urijah Faber, as well as dominant victories over Cub Swanson, Chad Mendes and Charles Oliveira during his featherweight streak, it’s hard to argue against ‘The Answer’s’ placement in the title picture.
Once again the UFC is spitting in the face of Edgar, having denied his claims on the title shot many times now and also publicly thrown him under the bus in the media.
Not decisive enough?
Was the first fight between Nate Diaz and Conor McGregor not decisive enough? Yes, Nate didn’t have a full camp, McGregor did, but wouldn’t this be more fitting as a rematch if the Irish boxer had eeked past Diaz, or perhaps dominated him? If Nate can basically roll off the couch (no, he was not training for a triathlon) and submit McGregor in two rounds, what’s to say a full camp won’t see an even more dominant showing for the younger Diaz bro?
Of course you can argue that McGregor only had 11 days to adjust to welterweight and also to train for Nate’s specific style, but Diaz mentally broke and finished McGregor, what more needs to be said with the featherweight title begging to be defended?
This is a trend we’ve seen many times in the past, elite fighters that for either reasons of pride, or truly believing they can beat that person that humiliated them, go straight in for an immediate rematch. Off the top of my head, Frankie Edgar lost two on the bounce to Ben Henderson for the lightweight strap, BJ Penn lost two on the trot to Frankie Edgar, also for the 155-pound title, Anderson Silva lost a pair in a row to Chris Weidman, and there are many more examples we could go over.
The truth is, after his first ever UFC loss, there’s a lot of ways McGregor could’ve headed after UFC 196. Straight in to a rematch with the man that beat him on just 11 days notice? Exactly, it’s just insane. Take some time, get a win or two, and their paths will be inevitable to cross again. Jump back in and lose two fights in a row to Diaz, in a weight division that’s truly too far upwards, and McGregor could be beginning to slide out of the limelight.
Enough is enough
OK, so we get that a ‘promotion’ wants to get the most out of their fighters in terms of revenue, but when does the legitimacy of the sport come in to question? One ex-UFC fighter recently said ‘It sucks, but the UFC is now bigger than the sport of MMA.’ The heavily rumoured booking of Diaz vs McGregor 2 is a perfect example of this. The promotion is willing to let the featherweight champion move up two weight classes, lose a fight, then remain at that same weight class for an immediate rematch with the man that just submitted him.
And his belt at 145 pounds doesn’t even come in to question. As well as insulting the top contenders and the ex-champion, the UFC is singe handedly catering to the casual fans and ignoring the rankings, while overlooking the consensus opinion. The legitimacy of the sport is once again brought in to question as the UFC hunts PPV’s over the long game.
That said, another Diaz vs. McGregor fight could be wildly entertaining, but at what cost in the grand picture?