Last Saturday, the main event between Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz finally came to pass. While Conor managed to eek out the majority decision win, the fight itself should be remembered as an all-time classic. The fight ebbed and flowed with McGregor starting strong before tiring and then coming back with a second wind before Nate finished the 5th round on top of his Irish counterpart, raining down strikes.
The major question now is what is next for both fighters, and it seems almost inevitably that both Diaz and McGregor will not be easily swayed into what Dana White and the other major decision-makers at the UFC may have planned for them.
The first issue is that McGregor arrived to the post fight press conference on crutches and will require an orthopedist to clear a left foot/ankle injury before he is allowed to return to fighting or he will be medically suspended until Feb 17, 2017.
Dana White went on the record saying prior to the event. “Yes, he will ‘return to featherweight.” White said, “Win, lose, or draw in this fight against Nate Diaz, he will return to 145.” That return was penciled in at UFC 205 against Jose Aldo for the belt. However, with that event scheduled for November 12, it is now looking unlikely.
McGregor himself has not seemed particularly keen for that fight and has stated that he would want to have the rubber match but at 155 lbs with Diaz. He mentioned that Aldo pulled from the first fight when he found Chad Mendes as a late replacement, then after almost two years of build up, he destroyed Aldo in 12 seconds. He stated he is not particularly excited to fight him again. Even though Aldo beat Edgar at UFC 200, it was a decision victory and he felt he had not quite earned the right for the rematch just yet.
Conor declared that if he was stripped of his belt and the UFC gave it to the man whom he defeated in 13 seconds, then the division would be “buried.” He went on to say he is in a beautiful position and he has got to this point in his career through hard work that he is going to capitalise on that. “There is a lot of stuff in the pipeline, shit is about to hit the fan I feel, so we’ll see,” he said to close out his post-fight press conference.
As for Diaz, he just earned a $2 million fight purse and has stated he “is not doing shit until round 3” with McGregor. White, though, has stated that “we’re definitely not doing this a third time right now.”
If Diaz stays true to declaration, that leaves the UFC without one of its most marketable fighters for potentially years. The Featherweight division is left with an absent champion, and the closest challenger is a man who was knocked out in 12 seconds. Sure, the Lightweight Champion, who is available to start a fight camp today, called out McGregor, but he may not get cleared to fight until 2017.
Dana White and the management team are at a serious crossroads with their two biggest stars and have some big decisions to make moving forward.
(Christopher King of Arundel, England is a new MMATorch contributor. He got hooked on MMA after watching UFC 114 featuring “Rampage” Jackson vs. Rashad Evans and from there, he says, “I spent a ridiculous amount of money and time watching every event from UFC 1 up to the present so I could understand the history of the sport, the fighters, the weight divisions and everything else in between. It was the style of fighting that drew me in, in order to see what martial art was the most effective, and from there, the fighters themselves, their story, their training and the sacrifices that they go through.” Follow him on Twitter – @ChristofKing)