HYDEN BLOG: On Jon Jones vs. Daniel Cormier as the official UFC 200 headliner

By Frank Hyden, MMATorch Contributor

There weren’t any events this week so I’ll just hit upon some MMA news. The biggest news this past week was that UFC 200 has a new main event. UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Daniel Cormier will fight Interim UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones to unify those belts. This is a fight a long time in the making and I’m incredibly excited for it. However, there’s no denying that the UFC’s hard stance with UFC Featherweight Champion Conor McGregor is likely to cost them hundreds of thousands of buys.

Cormier-Jones 1 at UFC 182 did about 800,000 buys. McGregor’s last fight did about 1.5 million buys. Granted, it was a loss to Nate Diaz so it’s hard to say exactly what effect that would have on this event if McGregor-Diaz 2 were still the main event, but you could argue that it would increase interest in that fight even more. Let’s say that it decreases the buyrate, though. That would still put it above what you would expect from the Jones-Cormier rematch. So the UFC stands to essentially lose money here. Now, I discussed this with a friend and he (rightly) pointed out that the next McGregor fight will likely do the same buyrate regardless of when it is, so the UFC isn’t really losing money. I agree with that largely, but it still feels wrong to not have the most popular fighter in the UFC on UFC 200.

I don’t know what the issue is between the UFC and Conor McGregor, but it feels like a lot more than just him not showing up to a press event. It feels like the UFC is trying to send a message to McGregor about overstepping his bounds. It makes him a more sympathetic figure, though, at least in my eyes. Maybe they want that, though?

Back to Jones-Cormier 2, this is a much better main event in the sense that it’s a title fight, for one. Main events should always be title fights if possible, so that checks that box. For two, this is one of the most anticipated fights of the year. Jon Jones is one of the best, if not the best, fighters in the world and he’s coming off of a fairly lackluster performance in his win over Ovince Saint Preux. Now he’s fighting Daniel Cormier, who is himself a very good fighter. Jones isn’t going to be able to have that same kind of performance and expect to win, not against a guy the caliber of Cormier. So we might see Jones lose legitimately for the first time ever (BS DQ’s don’t count). The bad blood between these two also makes things very interesting. Some of it seems put-on, but you can tell that there is negative feelings between these guys for real. And the fact that Jones didn’t look so hot in his last fight actually increases my anticipation. Jones is a prideful guy, as most athletes are, so you know he was bothered by being booed against OSP. And he definitely doesn’t want to lose to a guy he’s trash-talked for months.

UFC 200 is going to be one of the biggest events in years. There’s three title fights on the card, that’s spectacular. Not only are we getting Jones-Cormier 2, but we also get UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion Miesha Tate vs. Amanda Nunes as well as Jose Aldo vs. Frankie Edgar 2 for the Interim UFC Featherweight Title. I still think that Conor McGregor vs. Nate Diaz 2 should be on this card, but I’ll certainly take the current lineup.

The other thing I do want to add is that Nate Diaz should be extremely upset at all of this. He goes from headlining UFC 200 to not being on the card period, and who knows what the future holds for him. The UFC has said that McGregor’s next fight will be a defense of his UFC Featherweight Title. That leaves Diaz out in the cold. He was likely to get millions from his rematch with McGregor, and now that fight might not even come about. He’s got every right to be upset. Who does he fight now? Do you give him a shot at UFC Lightweight Champion Rafael dos Anjos? He’s fighting Eddie Alvarez next. Does he fight the winner? Khabib Nurmagomedov might have a better argument for that, he’s beaten dos Anjos before whereas Diaz lost to dos Anjos. Who does Diaz fight next? Whoever it is isn’t going to be nearly as lucrative as the McGregor rematch would be. I guess we’ll just have to wait to see what happens next in this drama-filled soap opera. I just hope it doesn’t take too long to start resolving these dangling plotlines.

Comments and suggestions can be emailed to me at hydenfrank@gmail.com and you can follow me on Twitter at @hydenfrank

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