Nate Diaz’s shock stoppage win over UFC poster boy Conor McGregor may have much further reaching consequences than first thought.
The result has put the rumoured UFC 200 Main Event bout of Conor McGregor vs Welterweight champion Robbie Lawler to bed, and casts serious questions over just which match-up will headline the marquee event.
UFC 200’s promotion has already started with the event mentioned multiple times during yesterday’s UFC 196 event where it was referenced as “the biggest fight card ever”.
The July 9th supercard is expected to feature at least two title matches, and may even feature a third given that recent pay-per-views have been headlined and co-headlined by championship contests.
One thing is for sure though, the event will be headlined by a title matchup, as there are no stars capable of selling such a momentous event that currently do not hold UFC gold.
Despite the loss to Diaz, McGregor remains the UFC featherweight champion after his 13 second knockout win over former pound-for-pound king Jose Aldo back in December.
A rematch with Aldo still looms as the likely choice, as McGregor remains the UFC’s most marketable star.
Given the dominance of former champion Aldo, and the fact McGregor lost to a much bigger man, the fight is still an easy sell as two men looking for redemption following losses.
The only problem with a potential McGregor/Aldo main event is that the UFC would be marketing their biggest event ever with a main event featuring two men coming off stoppage losses.
Diaz, with the win over McGregor, has put his name back into title contention. The UFC may look to capitalise on the buzz around the Stockton native and place him in the main event against either dos Anjos or Lawler.
Having recently lost to dos Anjos, a fight against Lawler, for the 170 pound title could be a real opportunity for the UFC.
Lawler’s last two fights have been fight of the year candidates and Diaz is one of the more exciting fighters on the roster.
A 2004 loss to Nate’s brother Nick Diaz could make for an interesting subplot, allowing Nate to zero in on the Lawler possibly being beaten by two brothers.
Another option that has been mentioned is a potential third matchup between new UFC women’s bantamweight champion Miesha Tate and former champion Ronda Rousey.
A returning Rousey, also coming off a loss, looking to regain the title she held for so long is an interesting story, however she has beaten Tate twice previously.
Tate has improved massively since her last loss, which was to Rousey in December of 2013, and the fight would again be an easy sell, however the mystique has disappeared from Rousey.
I’d expect this match to slot into the co-headline position, however given the success of UFC 193 in Melbourne, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Tate and Rousey headline the biggest event in the company’s history.
The longest reigning UFC Champion, and arguably the sport’s pound-for-pound best is Demetrious ‘Mighty Mouse’ Johnson, who defends his title on April 23rd.
A successful defence over Olympic gold medalist Henry Cejudo would be his eighth win as champion and would further enhance his status.
Unfortunately for Johnson, despite his dominance, the UFC Flyweight title doesn’t attract the viewers of the heavier weight classes.
The question on who Johnson would face is also posed, as should he defeat Cejudo, he’s all but cleared out his division. He’s already beaten the first and second ranked fights in his division twice each.
Former UFC poster-boy John Jones makes his long awaited return to the octagon on the same fight-card as Johnson’s title defence, and will fight rival Daniel Cormier for the light-heavyweight title.
Should Jones win, he certainly has the star power to headline UFC 200, but he’d need to escape relatively unscathed to be able to back up so quickly.
A Cormier win would establish him as one of the UFC’s top stars, but I’m not sure there is an opponent available who would lift to fight to headline status on such a huge occasion.
Luke Rockhold and Chris Weidman will do battle on the UFC 199 card, and given the fighting style of both men, and the war they had in their first fight, there is little chance either man will be in any shape to backup and headline UFC 200.
The other obvious choice would be to headline the event, much like UFC 100, with a World Heavyweight Title match up.
Current champion Fabricio Werdum does battle with Stipe Miocic on May 14th with the title on the line.
Once again, it would be tight, but not out of the question to ask the winner to head straight back into camp to prepare for UFC 200, but with all due respect to both men, neither carry the aura or marketability of UFC 100 victor Brock Lesnar.
Dominick Cruz and Joanna Jedrzejczyk are more than worthy champions, however I honestly can’t see either setting up in the main event either.
UFC 200’s undercard is set to be stacked to the point where it won’t depend on a main event to push pay-per-view and ticket sales.
The event alone will sell out and do over a million buys, but without a real marquee fight on top, it will likely fail in its promise to be the biggest event ever.
McGregor and Rousey, the UFC’s two biggest stars, are coming off huge, stoppage losses, and have put the obvious UFC 200 main event and co-main event plans into question.
There’s still a lot of water to pass under the bridge before we hit the double century, but as it stands, a McGregor/Aldo rematch or Diaz/Weidman contest seem the most likely to go on last.
Who knows, we may be treated to both, as well as the all-but-confirmed Tate/Rousey rematch.
No matter what the names on the marquee, this will be an event no MMA fan will want to miss.