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Editor’s Note: Earlier today Ariel Helwani hinted on his ESPN.com talk show that something may be in the works for UFC 230 next month from Madison Square Garden. The announcement of Sijara Eubanks vs. Valentina Shevchenko went over like a lead balloon, so UFC may be looking to make good on that. David McGrath examines some possibilities below.
Let’s fantasy book the UFC 230 main event
Some 48 hours after the UFC’s craziest main event in its 25-year history, I can’t help but feel underwhelmed. Looking forward to the next pay per view – UFC 230, which takes place in the world’s most famous arena, Madison Square Garden in New York City on November 3rd. After the McGregor- Khabib fiasco after the bell, and then looking at the 230 main event I can only feel like I traded in my Harley for a Huffy. Let’s add some spark to this and book five possibilities for the MSG headliner sure to get fans excited.
Disclaimer: I’m not going to use any fighter that fought this weekend mainly because it’s completely unrealistic.
Nate Diaz vs. Dustin Poirier for 165 lb title
Dana White has said that a 165 lb weight division has not been talked about and there’s no chance of it happening. However, Dana is about money! And there’s plenty to print in throwing the Stockton fight anyone- anywhere gangster Nate Diaz in against a rejuvenated Dustin Poirier with 10 pounds of gold on the line. Listen, let’s not pretend that another weight class is going to water down anything. Fighters should be fighting at their natural weight – and don’t tell me this devalues titles, we have a lightweight champion in Khabib Nurmagomedov who won his belt against a semi-retired real estate agent who was ranked #11 in the rankings. Stop! The possibilities here are too enticing. A. You get the main event you desperately need and B. you set up so many wonderful superfight opportunities at 165. How salivating would it be to see, I don’t know, McGregor vs Diaz part 3 for the 165 lb title? Book it, Dana, listen to your fighters, and your fans.
Jones vs Gustafsson Part 2
When any casual MMA fan asks me what fight should they watch to start to become a fan, one that completely encapsulates what MMA is all about, I point them towards Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 165 in 2013. This fight brought wonderful drama. Many people (author included) had “The Mauler” as the winner on points. Jones showed his warrior spirit by coming back hard and winning the last two rounds with spinning elbows and head kicks. The fight was a bloodbath complete with post-fight hospital selfies and fat lips. Gustafsson has been all over social media calling for the rematch and the rumor mill has been churning. If the UFC wants to take New York by storm book “Jonny Bones” return.
Stipe Miocic vs. Jon Jones at heavyweight for #1 contender spot
This fight would fascinate me. Miocic has been clamoring for a rematch with the double champ Daniel Cormier after getting knocked out by Cormier in July, why not make him earn it? Jones moving to heavyweight would be fascinating. The stylistic matchup of the great wrestler Miocic against Jones in his heavyweight debut would do monster business. The best fights for business are the fights that set the table for the future. If Miocic pulls the upset then Cormier would have to rematch him, if Jones wins, then, ya know…
Jon Jones vs Daniel Cormier 3
For the light heavyweight championship.
There’s enough drama and bad blood between these two to paint every wall in Manhattan. Book this fight and guaranteed you sell out “the world’s most famous arena.” My question is does Cormier push back his massive payday fight against Brock Lesnar to avenge his two defeats to Jones? If you’re asking me, the answer is yes. Cormier hates Jones, this one is personal. Cormier needs to beat Jones to cement his GOAT status. There’s so much legacy on the line, Jones can have a shot to regain the light heavyweight title he was never beaten for and Cormier gets another shot to beat his arch nemesis. I’m already salivating.
Out of this world wildcard:
Colby Covington vs. Nick Diaz welterweight fight
Alright, hear me out. Colby Covington is a lightning rod, anything this guy does is instant fodder for social media. Hell, this guy brought the welterweight title to the White House. Nick Diaz is crazy popular, fans have been clamoring for his return for years. And they have beef, remember Covington checking Diaz on Twitter, asking “they let you tweet from jail? The only thing you’re beating is women nowadays, shut your mouth before I shut it for you, homie,” In reference to Diaz’s tweet about Daniel Cormier and Brock Lesnar. Plus, why not put two Diaz brothers on the same card in New York City? Tyron Woodley is out with a hand injury so that fight with Covington isn’t happening at 230 so why not plunk him in the media capital of the world against a Diaz brother? Book it, Dana!