With Conor McGregor returning to the cage last month, it has created a feeling of excitement around UFC that may have been missing in 2019. McGregor was only out of action for about 15 months. There are plenty of other fighters who have more to offer both in the cage and at the box-office. Below is a list of four fighters we’d love to see back in UFC in 2020 as well as who they should fight when they come back. Finally, we’ll look at one fighter that might be better off retired.
1. Alexander Gustafsson
Alexander Gustafsson never got to hold UFC gold, but he did become a fan favorite thanks to being the first to give UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones a run for his money. Gustafsson retired following his June 2019 loss to Anthony Smith, but since then, there have been rumblings that Gus may be considering a comeback.
Who should he fight?: I wouldn’t want to throw Gustafsson out there with the top of the food chain right away but you don’t want to give him a gimme fight either. A matchup with Volkan Oezdemir has the right mix of competitive relevancy and name recognition for a Gustafsson comeback.
2. Nick Diaz
Nick Diaz hasn’t fought since having an oddly entertaining scrap with Anderson Silva back in 2015. Before that, it was a welterweight title fight with Georges St-Pierre two years earlier. Needless to say, Diaz is selective about when and who he fights. During his absence, he’s younger brother Nate has become a big and bankable star-making Nick a bigger potential draw by association. Despite his reluctance to commit to a fight, there should be something UFC can put together to entice Diaz back into the cage.
Who should he fight?: Since their first fight was essentially scrubbed from the record books, a rematch with Anderson Silva may be the kind of nothing-to-lose fight, and payday Diaz is looking for.
3. Georges St-Pierre
GSP went out on top in a way that no fighter before him has been able to do, with a historic championship win after four years away from the sport. This makes it a difficult decision to come back, because how can you top that? St-Pierre is only going to come back for the biggest of big fights that will enhance his pocketbook and his legacy.
Who should he fight?: If it’s purely legacy GSP is worried about, he’ll want to fight Khabib Nurmagomedov and try to be UFC’s first three-division champion. If it’s money, there’s no better comeback fight than Conor McGregor. If it’s up to me, I like the Conor fight since it won’t potentially derail a division like what happened when GSP won the middleweight championship only to walk away.
4. Brock Lesnar
Brock Lesnar has teased so many comebacks over the years before pulling the rug out from under us, that I really should have given up on him by now. But there’s something about Brock where it just seems like he’s got at least one more good fight left in him. He’s doing great in WWE and doesn’t need to make a UFC return for the money, but one more UFC win would be the perfect addition to an already incredible combat sports career.
Who should he fight?: I still feel robbed by that incredible post-fight angle he did with Daniel Cormier two years ago, that we never got a payoff for. Cormier’s time is limited so there’s no better time than now for Brock vs. DC.
Thanks but no thanks
Ronda Rousey had an incredible MMA career. She changed the makeup of the sport forever, was arguably the fighter of the last decade, and was the face of the sport for several years. But the way she lost her last two fights makes me not want to see her fight ever again and risk tarnishing her legacy further. Thankfully, Rousey appears content to stay out of the cage and enjoy the fruits of her labor.
But what if she HAS to fight again?: If Rousey absolutely must fight one more time, I’d like to see her stay away from any one part of the current MMA scene and fight another returning legend, Gina Carano.
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