After the events of International Fight Week last week, what’s the one fight you most want to see the UFC book before the end of the year and why?
MICHAEL BANE, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Give me McGregor, or give me death. That’s how the saying goes, right? After Aldo showed he hasn’t lost anything by dispatching one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the game today, I’m ready to see the fight that never got started last December. McGregor is the UFC’s biggest star, but there are still so many unanswered questions about how good he is. What’s his most impressive win been to date? A possible lucky-punch knockout of Aldo to capture the belt? Beating two-week-out replacement Chad Mendes in a fight for the interim title? Perhaps it was his decision victory against a relatively unknown at the time Max Holloway. That’s not to say that he wouldn’t have beaten these guys anyway, rather that his wins still leave us with questions.
With Aldo reminding us how good he truly is, it’s time to make the rematch of the fight that barely happened. Win or lose to Nate Diaz in August, it’s time for McGregor to defend the title against a very deserving contender or vacate the division altogether. As an professional athlete with a limited shelf life, he should chase whatever fight will do the most to secure his financial future. Luckily in McGregor’s case, he’s the reason fights sell, and a fight against a stand up fighter like Aldo may be more beneficial long term than one at 155 against a grinder like Eddie Alvarez. Dying to Robbie Lawler isn’t a good option at this juncture either.
McGregor vs. Aldo II also sets up great matches for both fighters after they finish their business. Max Holloway is in line for his shot at the title, and the loser of this fight can take on Anthony Pettis (assuming Pettis beats Charles Oliveira in his featherweight debut, hardly a safe assumption unless he reverts to the Pettis of old) in what could be a fight of the year candidate. There are some great fights at 145 pounds over the next several months if everyone can just stay healthy.
Other fights I’d like to see are the resurgent Cain Velasquez taking on the winner of Stipe Miocic vs. Alistair Overeem, T.J. Dillashaw’s rematch with Dominick Cruz, and Will Brooks fighting the winner of Edson Barboza-Gilbert Melendez. Eddie Alvarez against Tony Ferguson makes a world of sense as well. The biggest question marks we have coming out of this past weekend is with two of the biggest names ever to grace the sport in Brock Lesnar and Ronda Rousey. Lesner showed he’s a legitimate top 10 heavyweight, and if he wants a crack at the belt, he’s really only one fight away. Of course, the UFC could just go all Dan Henderson and let him fight for a championship next, but there’s probably a more logical, and yet still lucrative route, they could go instead. Amanda Nunes has been a tornado of destruction and could be one hell of a match up for Rousey’s return. Lots of potentially exciting things on the horizon, and like Rich Hansen and a fancy cocktail bar, let’s keep ’em coming.
FRANK HYDEN, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
There are plenty of good contenders for most intriguing fight but I have to go with Ronda Rousey vs. UFC Bantamweight Champion Amanda Nunes. Rousey is one of the most exciting fighters in the world and I want to see how she bounces back from her loss. It’s been a while, too, since she lost so I wonder if that’s a good thing for her or a bad thing? Could Nunes give Rousey her second straight loss? Or does Rousey reclaim her crown? There’s plenty of other interesting fights to possibly be made but my other choice would be to see Interim UFC Featherweight Champion Jose Aldo vs. UFC Featherweight Champion Conor McGregor to unify those belts. Some of the hype will be either diminished or magnified based on what happens when McGregor fights Nate Diaz, but it’s still going to be a monster fight. I can’t imagine it ends in 13 seconds again, so I’m fully expecting a classic between these two.
CASH NORMAN, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Aldo vs McGregor II
Jose Aldo vs Frankie Edgar was the fight I anticipated the most. In his last several fights we’ve seen an improved version of Edgar and I wanted to watch how Aldo would return from his loss to McGregor. We witnessed a very sharp, tactical, more elusive, and defensively sound version of Aldo; however, not the Aldo that ran roughshod over opponents like his WEC heyday. The question I have to ask is what version of Aldo will be able to beat McGregor? I don’t know; that’s why they need to schedule the match. There have already been some rumors circulating that the plans are to have McGregor and Aldo unify the titles at Madison Square Garden in November. Although, I don’t know how realistic that timeline would be as I don’t recall in recent memory Aldo ever having another fight scheduled that quickly, nor if it would be enough time for McGregor to recover, go into another training camp, and begin managing his weight down to 145 lbs.
As far as the winners/losers of the three fight card, first, I would like to see Joe Duffy fight a more prominent opponent at lightweight. I think Dustin Poirier may have been too much too soon but it’s obvious his fight with Mitch Clarke was too far down the scale. Then the question becomes who should Duffy fight next, maybe Evan Dunham or James Krause.
In addition, I would like for Doo Ho Choi to take a step up in combination. Possibly fighting someone like Makwan Amirkhani, another up and coming prospect at featherweight. Or even a matchup with Lucas Martins who is currently 4-3 in the UFC would be interesting.
Of the current prospects in the UFC, I am most excited about seeing the development of Doo Ho Choi. Also, another interesting prospect that is currently mending a torn ACL is Mirsad Bektic; at some point in the future, these two must fight. You will thank me later.
RICH HANSEN, MMATORCH COLUMNIST
Dude. Anyone who responds with any answer other than McGregor vs. Aldo needs to be summarily dismissed. And executed. Summarily. And slowly. Look. Jose Aldo went ten years without losing a fight. Ten. Damn. Years. TEN YEARS! And the guy who beat him beat him in thirteen seconds. THIRTEEN! And people have been dismissive of Jose Aldo ever since Mark Hominick grew a gigantic lump on his head at the expense of Aldo’s knuckles at UFC 129.
Chad Mendes would have won the first round of their first fight had Aldo not grabbed the fence. (And had he not gotten all unconscious during the aforementioned, that argument might be worth a bucket of spit. Alas.)
Frankie Edgar beat him the first time! (Sure. If you listen with the commentary on. Good luck with that. 49-46 Aldo is the only accurate card.)
He looked awful against Korean Zombie. (Sure he did, Skippy. If you love the Zombie and, you know, squinted REAL hard.)
His fight against Ricardo Lamas was boring. (OK, tough guy. YOU fight Ricardo Lamas and look good. See how that works out for you. I’m so sorry Aldo hasn’t been as flashy as you want him to be. Go watch Cormier if you want flash. Oh. Wait.)
Chad Mendes showed how vulnerable he is. (Yep. Aldo vulnerably lost a fight of the year candidate 49-46 on all cards. Vulnerable.)
Let’s be really clear here. Jose Aldo is the best fighter of his generation. He’s not even thirty years old. He’s beaten everyone he’s fought in major organizations, with one notable, loud, glaring exception. And he’s going to fight him next. He’s going to be chasing McGregor. For the first time in however long Jose Aldo is on the hunt. And it’s a hell of a lot more fun to be the predator than prey.
[Photo (c) Gary A. Vasquez via USA Today Sports]
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