This weekend marks the official beginning of spring, though I wouldn’t know it by looking out at the chilly, rain/snow mix falling outside my window right now. We’re also familiar with a certain cliché that accompanies spring: It either comes in like a lion or a lamb.
In the case of the UFC, spring brings with it one thing – chaos. The UFC held its most recent pay-per-view earlier this month, and it was supposed to serve as a coronation of sorts. Then-UFC women’s bantamweight champion Holly Holm was supposed to defeat Miesha Tate in the co-main event and set up a big-money rematch with former champion Ronda Rousey. With many people also believing that Holm will always have Rousey’s number.
In the main event, Conor McGregor faced Nate Diaz on short notice in a welterweight bout, after McGregor’s original opponent, lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos, had to bow out because of injury. But it didn’t matter. This fight was going to be McGregor’s introduction to the welterweight division, and many expected him to make easy work of Diaz to set up a big-money showdown with welterweight champion Robbie Lawler, possibly this summer at UFC 200.
But speaking of clichés, here are two more: We all know what happens to the best-laid plans of men, and a funny thing happened on the way to Vegas.
Both Holm and McGregor lost, and in McGregor’s case, rather decisively. Holm was choked out in the fifth round by Tate to lose her belt, but was winning the fight on the scorecards prior to that. However, Diaz took McGregor’s best shots and kept coming, and eventually took McGregor to the ground and used his elite jiu-jitsu to choke McGregor out.
So now, UFC 200 is still very much in a state of uncertainty. Which is somewhat unusual, given that it will likely be the biggest card in UFC history. It was announced yesterday that UFC is working on a rematch that absolutely no one asked for at UFC 200, with McGregor taking on Diaz again.
Besides the obvious reason why the UFC is doing this (money, duh), this fight makes absolutely no sense. A rematch between McGregor and Diaz takes away an opportunity from someone who truly deserves a shot at McGregor, and his seemingly forgotten featherweight title: Frankie Edgar. Regardless of what you think about Edgar’s worthiness as a contender or as a main eventer of a pay-per-view, it’s clear he’s deserved a title shot for nearly a year.
On the women’s side, it seems likely Tate’s first fight as UFC women’s bantamweight champion will be against her old rival, Rousey. There’s a chance the fight could have happened at UFC 200, but it’s still unknown when Rousey will be 100 percent ready to step in the Octagon again. Tate may not be inclined to wait, either.
The fallout from UFC 196 is just one of the reasons why UFC seems to find itself in a very uncertain state as we head into the warmer months of the year. Although the UFC is welcoming back one of its biggest stars and possibly still pound-for-pound best fighter in Jon Jones at UFC 197 next month, other high-profile stars find themselves with uncertain futures.
Former pound-for-pound king Anderson Silva lost a somewhat controversial decision to Michael Bisping last month – his third straight defeat (his 2015 fight against Nick Diaz was ruled a no-contest after Silva failed multiple drug tests). Silva is now scheduled to face Uriah Hall at UFC 198 in May, which is a notable step down for “The Spider.” That fight will be on the same card as a heavyweight title fight between champion Fabricio Werdum and Stipe Miocic, and a middleweight contender fight between Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza and Vitor Belfort (whom Silva beat in 2011).
Did you ever think you’d see the day where an Anderson Silva fight wouldn’t even be a co-main event on a UFC pay-per-view? Speaking of Silva, his former rival to be considered the pound-for-pound best, Georges St. Pierre, was in attendance at UFC 196 earlier this month. It was widely rumored that he was contemplating a return to the UFC for perhaps an immediate welterweight title fight with Lawler.
But Dana White seemed to stick his foot in his mouth again following the show, when he alleged that St. Pierre would not have agreed to move up in weight for a previous dream fight against Silva, like McGregor did for his fight against Diaz. Seemingly throwing one of the best champions in your company’s history under the bus is not a good way to convince him to come back. Just saying.
Once upon a time, a possible UFC 200 card might have looked like this:
— The Minds Eye (@PinealMind) March 14, 2016
But now, we’re probably going to see a confusing rematch (at best) between McGregor and Diaz. We may see some kind of women’s fight that may or may not involve the women’s bantamweight champion. And no one seems to know for sure what else. I don’t know about you guys, but what might have been with UFC 200 looks a lot more attractive than what will probably be.
Spring may have come to the UFC like a lion, shredding its best-laid plans like a fresh zebra carcass. But it’s not too late to make sure that the UFC’s biggest card in its history doesn’t come off like a meek lamb, too.