Conor McGregor finally has a fight. After dismantling Jose
Aldo last month, rumors swirled about what he would do next. Defend his belt? Move to lightweight? He had plenty of options. But if all of the reports are true, McGregor will challenge Rafael Dos Anjos for the lightweight title at UFC 197 in Las Vegas.
Although this fight should be tremendous, there are other fighters in the featherweight/lightweight divisions that wanted a piece of McGregor themselves. Fighters such as Aldo, Frankie Edgar, Max Holloway and Nate Diaz all wanted a chance to challenge “The Notorious” one, but now they will have to wait. So where do these fighters go from here?
If there was anybody that deserved a chance to fight McGregor, it would be Edgar. Just a night before McGregor won the belt, Edgar knocked out former contender Chad Mendes to cement himself as the clear #1 contender for the featherweight title. But even Edgar had to know things would not be that simple if McGregor won.
Edgar ended up heading back to New Jersey with more questions than answers that weekend. McGregor’s stardom has given him power that other champions have not had in the past. Although he flirted at the idea of fighting Edgar, his sights seemed to be much bigger.
At this point, the best thing for Edgar is to wait for a potential interim title fight at featherweight. Nobody is sure whether or not McGregor will have to eventually give up his belt, but right now that does not seem like the case. Edgar should fight Aldo for the interim title while McGregor tries his luck at lightweight. Edgar’s first matchup with Aldo was a close decision loss that he will surely want to avenge.
Edgar has to be pissed off at this point. He has been promised numerous title shots by the UFC, but circumstances have forced him on the outside looking in. If he keeps finishing opponents like he has been, eventually he will not be denied.
Aldo has had plenty of time to think about his loss to McGregor, and at this point it is time to think about his next fight. A rematch would be ideal, but that does not look like it is going to happen anytime soon. Aldo has plenty of options, and getting back in the win column could lead him face-to-face with the Irishman once again.
As mentioned before, an interim title fight between Aldo and Edgar seems ideal. Whether McGregor defeats RDA or not, he would still have to return to featherweight and defend his belt. A rematch with a hungry Edgar would not be easy, but it is the best way to determine who is more deserved of a rematch with McGregor.
Aldo’s more interesting option could be a move to lightweight. Similar to McGregor, Aldo has struggled with the weight cut to 145 lbs before, and could be ready to create a new legacy by going up a weight class. With this move, he could face new opponents and still have a chance to face McGregor again for the lightweight belt this time.
Back on August 17, 2013, Holloway lost to McGregor by unanimous decision. This was one of McGregor’s more difficult fights in his rise to fame, due to the fact that he badly injured his knee during the contest.
Since then, Holloway has taken the featherweight division by storm. Winning eight fights in a row, Holloway has expressed interest in a rematch with McGregor for all of the marbles, and he certainly has a case.
The issue with Holloway is that he is not quite a household name. Some of the fights during his win streak were against lesser name fighters and he will have to defeat someone like Mendes, Aldo or Edgar to make himself a clear contender.
One thing that Holloway could have going in his favor is that he is from Hawaii. Former lightweight king B.J. Penn was able to become a very marketable fighter in the UFC, and his Hawaiian heritage may have been a big reason why. If Holloway can help bring the UFC brand to Hawaii like BJ once did, he can become a household name in no time.
After defeating Michael Johnson a few weeks ago, Diaz surprisingly called out McGregor in a post fight interview that will long be remembered. Diaz seemed frustrated by the fact that McGregor was getting whatever fights he wanted and being paid a good sum in the process.
Nate does have a point. Since 2007, Diaz has paid his dues in the UFC at lightweight and at welterweight. He has headlined multiple FOX shows and once fought for the lightweight belt in 2012. So, seeing a guy like McGregor come in out of nowhere and get all of the big fights and contracts has to be frustrating.
Although a fight between Diaz and McGregor is very marketable, they wouldn’t be fighting for a belt of any kind. At this point in time, that just doesn’t make sense.
However, what Diaz did do a few weeks ago is plant a seed for a future fight. Nate has only fought twice since 2013 due to contract disputes and other issues, but a couple of more wins at lightweight could get him right back into contention. If McGregor is still in the lightweight picture, Nate will get the big money fight that he has always wanted.