What’s next for Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz win or lose at UFC 202?
MIKE HISCOE, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Let’s start with McGregor. Win or lose, he has to go back down and defend his Featherweight Championship against Jose Aldo. With Conor already losing to Nate Diaz and with Aldo looking like his old self at UFC 200, the interest in a rematch after such a quick knockout at UFC 194 is much higher. Yes, if McGregor wins, there are big money fights in a rubber match with Diaz or a title fight at 170, but going back down to 145 and beating Aldo for a second time will only increase his stock for future money fights. The only reason for Conor not to defend his title next is if he has no intention of ever returning to the featherweight division, in which case he should make his intentions known sooner than later.
Diaz is a little trickier. Until the McGregor fight, Nate Diaz wasn’t a top level guy. He had some main events but his spotty win-loss record left him a tier or two below UFC’s top draws. With a win, it would be easy to put Diaz in a title fight at either 170 or 155. Diaz vs. Tyron Woodley or Eddie Alvarez won’t set any box-office or pay-per-view records but it will do better than it would have a year ago, and is better than most other options, especially for Alvarez. The downside is both divisions are deep with credible challengers that Diaz would be stepper over. If the UFC decides to go with Stephen Thompson for Woodley over Georges St-Pierre, I think Nate Diaz vs. GSP is a great fight to make. It will have the built in story of GSP already beating Nick Diaz and give both guys a big money fight without muddying up the title picture. The best prospect of all scenarios for Diaz is to lose on Saturday and wait out a trilogy fight with McGregor. I’m certainly not saying he should throw the fight but he may be richer for it in the end if he does lose.
CHRIS HUNT, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
I went into this in depth in my two articles, but I believe who ever wins should angle for a fight with Eddie Alvarez. It would satisfy McGregor’s quest to be a two weight world champion and be an easier weight cut after walking around at Welterweight for so long. As for Diaz he wants and needs money fights, and if he does the double over Conor he will be the biggest draw.
If Conor loses, he fights Aldo and defends the Featherweight belt, If Diaz wins, he angles for the trilogy fight with McGregor which will sell like hot cakes!
ROBERT STAAF, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
If Conor McGregor avenges his loss to Nate Diaz, I see his leverage in the UFC growing even stronger, leading to me being unsure of the likelihood of him ever going all the way back down to featherweight. Win a win over Diaz at UFC 202, I could see McGregor getting a Lightweight Title shot against Eddie Alvarez and likely having to relinquish the Featherweight Title for good. If McGregor loses for the second time, he still has the Featherweight Title to fall back on and we will see the rematch against Jose Aldo. Now if Stockton’s own Nate Diaz defeats Conor McGregor again, despite both wins being at Welterweight, I think it’s all but guaranteed that he will be the one challenging Eddie Alvarez. If Diaz falls to the Irishman, his future is a little more wide open, as there are plenty of intriguing bouts to be made at either Lightweight or Welterweight. His star power and negotiating power has grown with his first win over McGregor so he would likely be very selective in his future bouts, but I could see a fight against someone like ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone, Edson Barboza, or Robbie Lawler, depending on which division he chooses.
DYLAN WEBSTER, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
For McGregor win or lose, I think he has to go back down to 145 and defend his title, a rematch with interim champion Aldo being first on the list to unify the belts, I don’t see much of a future for McGregor at Welterweight, perhaps he unifies the Featherweight Titles by defeating Aldo once again and then goes through with his original plans before Diaz and makes the move up to the lightweight division to face champion Eddie Alvarez, fulfilling his dream of becoming a two weight champion in the UFC if he wins.
For Diaz, win or lose, I doubt we see him staying at welterweight in a stacked division, either he hangs around that weight to take the big money fights when he can get them, maybe waiting it out for a GSP return, as GSP’s coach earlier this year talked about GSP fighting Nate for UFC 200 which obviously didn’t happen. If not, he will probably move back down to his usual weight of Lightweight to try and make a run for the championship as he is still ranked number four in the division.
ADAM TINDAL, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Should Conor win I believe there will be much pressure from the brass to go defend his belt against Jose Aldo. In reality I bet he scraps the Featherweight belt and pushes for the Lightweight Title. A win over Eddie Alvarez in effortless fashion has him offer the rubber match to Nate at 155 lbs for the belt. Now if Nate wins my guess is he will talk much about retirement, but it would be hard to deny him a title fight should he win on Aug. 20. If he wins now and then beats Alvarez for the title this gives Conor the time to unify the belts with Aldo. A win there would set up what would easily be the biggest rubber match in UFC history for that Lightweight Championship.
RYAN LEGARSKY, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Conor must return to 145 lbs. after this fight. It’s astounding to think that McGregor has never actually defended any of his titles in his MMA career. He claims he wants to be a three-weight champion, but won’t even defend the one that he has? Give me McGregor-Aldo 2 so the fans can get the show we all expected the first time around. Nate Diaz can go a lot of places coming out of this fight, but hopefully it is at 155. Something that is intriguing to me would be a match up with Edson Barboza. I think that is a solid fight for both sides
FRANK GONZALES, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
The winner of this fight might be Eddie Alvarez. I don’t get the feeling Connor wants to cut to 145 again, so I think a win sets up his move to lightweight and a shot at Alvarez, with hopes of GSP regaining the 170 title. A loss might force him to bite the bullet for a showdown with Jose at featherweight.
A Diaz victory also sets up a title shot from Alvarez. Alvarez isn’t necessarily the biggest name, and we all know Nate’s opinion of title belts. That said, the two men have shared words in the past, and being the champ isn’t necessarily a bad thing. A Nate loss? Haha!! Good luck convincing him (or anyone else) that he shouldn’t get to run it back with Mr. Mac.
STEVEN CONSENTINO, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
The two scenarios involving McGregor have the potential to be very similar, but in different ways.
Conor wins: He goes on an absolute tear. After having avenged his loss to Diaz, proving it was the short notice and inability to have a full camp to prepare, his ego is at an all time high. Self promotion is through the roof. He dives back to featherweight to once again manhandle Jose Aldo, then drops the mic on the division. He then moves to lightweight to immediately challenge for the title, the rest is up to the imagination. A trilogy fight with Diaz may be in the cards down the road.
Conor loses: He is once again humbled, succumbing to the reality that the 170 lb division may be too much for him to handle. He returns to the featherweight division proving he can’t be stopped there, and defeats Aldo once again. Lobbies for a title fight at lightweight, and again the rest is up to the imagination.
Conor will still be a mega star no matter what the outcome of this rubber match with Diaz holds. Only the promotional outlook will change, not the path.
Diaz wins: His next fight will come against almost literally whoever he asks for. His leverage with UFC matchmakers will be at an all time high. But after Conor tucks his tail between his legs and goes back to featherweight, Diaz will challenge for the welterweight title.
Diaz loses: His stock really doesn’t drop that much. Depending on how the loss comes, which I would predict to be a decision, he continues to remain in top, money drawing fights. If both parties remain at 170, St. Pierre’s return, anyone?
[Photo (c) Mark J. Rebilas via USA Today Sports]
Attention iPhone/iPad and Android users, if you’ve enjoyed our app in the past and followed us there, or if you’ve never checked it out, make sure to update to the latest version in the Apple store and/or Google Play store. We’ve launched a new look for the app, in line with our recent desktop overhaul. Make sure to check it out!
For current App users, swipe right to view next article, swipe left to view previous article.