TOPIC: If UFC can’t get Conor McGregor for UFC 205, what should they book as a main event to ensure it’s as big a show as possible (assume Ronda Rousey and Jon Jones are unavailable)?
The following is the first of three batches of MMATorch writers responding to this topic…
JASON AMADI, MMATorch columnist
It seems as though there is nothing the UFC can do to gain much mainstream traction for 205 at this point. UFC lightweight Al Iaquinta has made his issues with the company public and it’s probably no coincidence that other Serra-Longo fighters like Chris Weidman and Aljamain Sterling, who are actually based in New York, aren’t on the card either. As a result, the card has lost the “New York feel” that could have made it feel special.
Times are changing for the UFC. More are more fighters are aware of what they’re worth and want a bigger piece of the pie. UFC 205 is likely going to suffer at the box office for it.
That being said, it looks like it’s still going to be a fun show for hardcore fans. The two title fights at the top are fantastic. Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Karolina Kowalkiewicz are two names that I dread having to type out, but they should do well on the card considering the Polish population in New York. Tyron Woodley vs. Stephen Thompson is also a fight many fans have been clamoring for. There are lots of name fighters elsewhere on the card, but they’re not matched up in ways that are particularly compelling. Unfortunately, this card feels a lot like UFC 200 would have felt like had the company not secured Brock Lesnar late.
MICHAEL GROCKE, MMATorch contributor
Stipe Miocic vs. Cain Velasquez should main event UFC 205 if Conor McGregor isn’t available. Velaquez lost the title to Fabricio Werdum back in June of 2015. He was supposed to fight Werdum in a rematch in February, but a back injury forced him to pull out of the fight. Enter Stipe Miocic. Miocic made the most of his opportunity by knocking Werdum out in the first round to capture the heavyweight title. Both fighters are coming off impressive performances in their previous fights. Stipe successfully defended his title by stopping Alistair Overeem in the first round at UFC 203. At UFC 200, Cain looked like his old self by destroying Travis Browne. Two of the top heavyweights in the world fighting for the title is a must see main event on any show.
ROBERT VALLEJOS, MMATorch contributor
While the UFC will have no problem packing 20,000 people into MSG, in order for the card to be memorable the UFC needs a major pay-per-view draw on the card. Although it may be at the expense of the UFC 206 gate, the return of Georges St-Pierre would be huge business for the UFC.
Finding an opponent seems to be much more difficult. In a perfect world, the return of Nick Diaz would make perfect sense given the current novelty associated with the Diaz name. More realistically, GSP could help sort out the cluster in the top-heavy Welterweight division. If possible Steven Thompson, Robbie Lawler, and Demian Maia would all be intriguing if a title shot against Tyron Woodley was completely out of the question.
JONATHAN CERVANTES, MMATorch contributor
Assuming Anthony Pettis were healthy and ready to go, I’d love to see a fight between him and Jose Aldo. A few years ago when they were both champions of their respective divisions they were slated to meet, but injuries kept that fight from coming to fruition. I think this match would make sense for a few reasons: (1) I think Aldo should have to win at least one more time given the way he lost to McGregor. (2) Pettis had a great performance in his last fight and is still one of the most exciting fighters in the UFC. (3) These two fighters are known for their highlight reel, show-stopping, amazing fights and I think their styles would make for an excellent showing in the Featherweight Division and would provide a real test for the champion.
FRANK GONZALES, MMATorch contributor
At this point, anything short of GSP vs. Andy Silva leaves the UFC’s first trip to New York just as underwhelming as the McGregor-less, Jones-less, 200 card. Now that JJ vs. KK is signed for the Women’s Strawweight strap, my sense is Woodley-Wonderboy headlines, with a couple fun fights thrown in to sell the card as a whole. If they really wanna show they care, how bout bringing back Nick Diaz? I’m sure there’s a Cowboy somewhere who wouldn’t mind two-stepping in the Garden.
CHECK OUT PREVIOUS MMATORCH ROUNDTABLES HERE.
(MMATorch features the Roundtable feature providing a variety of opinions and perspectives on hot topics in the world MMA.)