Before we get started, this is the first and last time I’ll use “super necessary” in a headline. It was just…I just had to use it before the catchphrase has been completely run into the ground. Which is right about now.
UFC has pulled off the seemingly impossible and booked Nate Diaz in a fight just three months after his return from a three-year absence. They had to have known that if they let Diaz sit out for too long that they might never get him back in the cage. Diaz will fight Jorge Masvidal in the main event of UFC 244 from Madison Square Garden for the BMF championship, a title that started as a fun meme and will likely have all the fun taken out of it the more seriously UFC takes it.
The fight solves several problems: it solves the MSG main event problem, which almost blew up in UFC’s face a year ago. It solves the keeping Nate Diaz engaged problem, and it also gives Masvidal something to do while the UFC welterweight championship seems to be held up.
The UFC, welterweight champion Kamaru Usman, and top contender Colby Covington have been unable to come to terms for a championship fight. It’s unclear where exactly the snag is, but Usman said in a recent tweet that he’ll fight “the right guy” for “the right (money).”
UFC needs to make this fight happen, and soon. Not because it’s going to be a big box office attraction, but because it needs to happen so they can move on to bigger and better things. Usman-Covington needs to happen in order for UFC to know what to do next. A Covington win sets up an easy matchup with the winner of Diaz-Masvidal. An Usman win doesn’t have an obvious path, but it could mean fights with Tyron Woodley or Leon Edwards down the line with Covington still fighting either Diaz or Masvidal.
I’m not in favor of stripping a champion of his title less than a year after winning it, but if Usman’s holdout extends into the winter, UFC may want to consider stripping him for inactivity or at the very least, just moving along without him and using Covington against either Diaz or Masvidal in the first half of 2020.
Holding up the Usman-Covington fight runs the risk of Diaz sitting out too long, getting used to not fighting again, and then they have another three-year battle to get him back in the cage. Likewise, they run the risk of losing out on the momentum Masvidal has built, especially if he beats Diaz.
Usman vs. Covington needs to happen soon, anytime, anyplace. Not because we particularly are clamoring to see it, but because it will lead to some fights we might actually want to see.
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