Given the McGregor-Diaz rematch, Velasquez-Browne, and Mousasi-Brunson fights at UFC 200, which other realistic matchups can the UFC book on that card to make it as big as they want it to be?
MICHAEL BANE, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
The UFC is doing a fine job of putting this card together so far. While I can’t say I necessarily agree with Conor McGregor vs. Nate Diaz taking the Octagon at 170 pounds again, there’s no denying that fight is one of the biggest they can make at the moment. A featherweight fight for an Interim Title between Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar is a nice treat for the more die hard fans who will be watching. So far every fight on this card features a fighter with at least some name recognition, including a couple champs such as UFC belt holders such as Johny Hendricks, Cain Velasquez, and the aforementioned Aldo and Edgar.
While Cat Zingano and Julianna Pena may be participating in the event, it’s possible the UFC puts a higher profile women’s fight on the card as well. Meisha Tate has been campaigning to fight here, as she should with how many buys this will get and what that means for her bank account. A rematch against Holly Holm would be perfectly appropriate, or a fight against a very deserving Amanda Nunes would make a lot of sense as well. I’m not sure how likely this is though, as putting another five round fight on the docket risks making this event run very long. The women will be represented that weekend in a championship fight, as Joanna Jedzejczyk will be defending her strawweight belt in a rematch against Claudia Gadelha, making the need for the bantamweight title to be defended a little less necessary.
The talk of another five round title fight does, however, begin to address the elephant in the room. The 170 pound, Canadian, will-he-or-won’t he elephant that is more commonly known as Georges St-Pierre. Robbie Lawler hasn’t fought since his five round war against Carlos Condit on January 2. He currently has no fight scheduled. While that could change and he could end up fighting sometime before UFC 200, the reason nothing’s been decided yet is due to the possible return to the cage of the greatest welterweight of all time. If you’re going to have the return of GSP, there’s no better place for it to happen. If you’re looking to try to make UFC 200 the biggest selling pay-per-view ever, there’s not much better you could do than having one of the most popular UFC fighters ever come back to fight for a belt he never lost. I’m positive this is being discussed at the moment, and it likely hinges on GSP being comfortable with the money he’ll get to put on the gloves again.
And there’s one more thing. McGregor’s fighting at 170 (so is Diaz, but I mean, McGregor). The UFC could see a dream scenario play out if St-Pierre takes the title back and McGregor gets his revenge against Nick’s little brother. GSP steps into the cage for an epic stare down with Ireland’s favorite MMA fighter. Bring on GSP vs. McGregor for the UFC Welterweight Championship. Please take my money.
DAYNE FOX, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Let me state that I hate the McGregor-Diaz rematch. It reeks of favortism with little regard to what the fans actually want. Then again, I understand that the UFC doesn’t market towards the fans… well, not the hardcore fans. They’ve got us regardless of what they do. The casuals know McGregor obviously and Diaz has never been larger thanks to his upset of McGregor. Do those fans know who Frankie Edgar is? Probably not. Do they want to see McGregor fight a dude that he finished in 13 seconds in Jose Aldo? Nope. Bottom line is that there aren’t any other opponents casuals would know available to fight McGregor that make sense.
As for other fights, there needs to be another title fight of some sort and the most obvious choice is Robbie Lawler defending his Welterweight Title. I admit that I’m sick of rematches, but the one exception I’d make would be to see Lawler defend against Carlos Condit again. I don’t anticipate any other fight topping their original bout for FOTY, but a chance for a clear cut decision is something I’d love to see. If GSP decides to make his return that fast, he’d be an acceptable alternative, one I’m sure the brass would prefer over Condit. I’d also schedule a bout between Tyron Woodley and Neil Magny as insurance, with Woodley getting his shot that he has been clamoring for if injury pops up for Condit or St-Pierre. If Condit is willing to back off of his title fight-or-retirement talk, sub him in for Magny, but he seems pretty dead set on that idea. I’ll admit that I’d rather see Stephen Thompson be the injury replacement, but he is already scheduled to face Rory MacDonald.
I really think the UFC wants multiple title fights on the card, so expect to see Rafael dos Anjos on there with the real question being just whom he would face. The best option would be the winner of Khabib Nurmagomedov-Tony Ferguson later this month, but will the winner be physically cleared to accept that fight in less than three months time? If they are, book that. If not, Eddie Alvarez makes an acceptable alternative even if his two UFC wins are controversial. If not dos Anjos, Miesha Tate could defend her belt either against Ronda Rousey (if Rousey decides to leave Hollywood early which seems a real possibility with Tate the champ), Holly Holm, or Amanda Nunes. Nunes is the one the UFC would least like to see fighting for the belt, but with Rousey dictating her own timetable and with the likelihood the UFC would want to avoid a repeat of UFC 196’s main and co-main (the same reason they denied Pat Miletich a rematch they had promised him against Carlos Newton at UFC 34), Nunes is a distinct possibility. But I only see that if dos Anjos can’t go.
I think they’ll throw a few fighters with potential bankability on there as well in hopes of increasing their profile. Michelle Waterson is one that comes to mind. A fight between her and Joanne Calderwood makes a lot of sense and could be a lot of fun too. Max Holloway and Ricardo Lamas is another fight I could see along those lines too with Holloway being the potential star. I’ve been waiting for the UFC to announce T.J. Dillashaw vs. Rafael Assuncao for UFC 199 as insurance for the bantamweight title fight, but if it doesn’t take place there UFC 200 is a fine spot for it too.
FRANK HYDEN, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
They need to get at least one more big fight on this card. I’m talking UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion Miesha Tate vs. Holly Holm 2 or just Tate vs. anyone period. They need to add UFC Welterweight Champion Robbie Lawler vs. someone or UFC Lightweight Champion Rafael dos Anjos vs. the Tony Ferguson-Khabib Nurmagomedov winner from next month. That’s if Ferguson wins, because if Nurmagomedov wins he’ll probably get hurt and not be able to to make the turnaround. The UFC needs to make this big. McGregor-Diaz 2 can carry the weight, but this card needs to be huge. They need to make this card special. They need some big title fights on here. This should be one of the most stacked cards of all time. The rumored fights up above aren’t enough. There should be at least two title fights. Couple that with McGregor-Diaz 2 and you’ve got a monster card.
DAN MOORE, MMATORCH UK COLUMNIST
I expect Mousasi vs. Brunson will only be on the preliminary portion of UFC 200; that’s how good I expect this card to be. Full of quality match-ups from top to bottom to sell-out their first appearance at the new arena in Las Vegas. I expect there to be at least one more title fight added as co-main event. Most likely a Lightweight Title bout between Rafael dos Anjos and Eddie Alvarez if the former recovers in time. I like that we get to see Jose Aldo vs. Frankie Edgar face-off with the winner fighting McGregor in New York later this year. Finally, and I’m being greedy here, add the return of Georges St-Pierre against anyone with a heartbeat to round-off a world class main card that should begin with Cain Velasquez vs. Travis Browne.
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