Nate Diaz’s second round destruction of arguably the UFC’s biggest star last night may have a ripple effect across the top of three weight classes. He’s now on the radar of many newer fight fans that Conor McGregor has brought into the sport. Never one to miss an opportunity to capitalize on a rising star UFC promoter Dana White commented on ESPN’s Sportscenter on what may be next for Diaz, who’s currently the fifth-ranked lightweight in the world.
“You know what would make a lot of sense, it’s not the fight I’m making I’m just saying, him and Robbie Lawler. His brother beat Robbie who’s now the world champion and Nate became very, very popular tonight.”
Lawler is the welterweight champion, a division Nate dabbled in earlier in his career with mixed results. He won his first three, then dropped his next two at 170 to Rory MacDonald and Dong Hyun Kim. I’m sure White’s statement thrilled Tyron Woodley, who’s sitting at third in the division, hoping to get the title shot White claimed he’d receive after Johny Hendricks pulled out of their title eliminator at UFC 192.
There was talk leading up to yesterday’s event about Conor possibly facing Lawler at UFC 200 with a good showing at 170 pounds last night, or possibly re-scheduling the original headliner of 196 McGregor vs Dos Anjos for the lightweight crown. Now signs seem to be pointing to Conor defending his featherweight title first.
White: “What would make sense to me is he goes back down and defends the 145 pound title, but we’ll see what he wants to do.”
At the post-fight press conference McGregor also expressed interest in defending his belt, taking umbrage with fighters in that division “celebrating another man’s victory”.
— Jose Aldo Junior (@josealdojunior) March 6, 2016
When asked whether Aldo or Frankie Edgar should be next in line, McGregor seemed to lean towards Aldo, at least initially.
“It’s hard not to give Aldo another shot. He’s ten years undefeated…but he pulls out a lot, he doesn’t compete a lot. Frankie at least gets in there and competes. I don’t know, I’ll keep my ear to the ground and see who the fans want to see the most.”
Nate and Conor may be leaving the lightweight division, the originally scheduled weight the main event was supposed to take place at ironically, for the near future at least. That would likely make the Nurmagomedov vs Ferguson fight in April a clear title-eliminator. As most fighters and fans know however, ‘clarity’ and sometimes even merit aren’t always the UFC’s top factors when scheduling title fights.