When Brock Lesnar stormed the octagon, shoved Daniel Cormier and shouted profanities at all the heavyweights in attendance, we all knew what was coming next. A little part of every purist MMA fan died that night as the circus took centre stage and the era of prized money fights was confirmed. Lesnar was granted the title shot, after failing to win a fight since 2010 and Cormier quickly obliged. What follows in that fight remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure – these types of fights are here to stay and there is nothing we can do but embrace it. Let’s take a look at some other matchups in the same mold that the UFC could be looking to make heading into the near future.
Cormier is a draw on his own, not because he talks trash or knocks people out (usually), it is because he is often the underdog and continues to prove his doubters wrong. The king of the grind has an easy evening ahead of him, in my opinion, against Lesnar, provided Lesnar plays by the rules and keeps his body clean. I am still not convinced that this matchup will take place. The fight the fans want to see, the one that makes the most sense and has a lot more integrity attached to it is the next installment in the Cormier/Jones saga. I believe Jon Jones is going to find a way out of his suspension in whichever way possible and line up a fight with DC, ASAP. A fight at heavyweight nearly evens up the odds and gives Cormier a real shot at redemption, one last time, before he retires.
At 205 pounds, the contenders banging on DC’s front door are limited. Taking nothing away from Gustafsson – he will be the rightful heir to Cormier’s throne, once retired. The ranked light heavyweights who haven’t already had a crack at the champion just don’t seem to be on the same level. Enter Yoel Romero. The former middleweight title challenger has missed weight in his last two fights at 185 pounds and blew his chance at UFC gold. The move up to light heavy makes sense and although his record of 1-2 from his last three fights isn’t pretty, don’t forget that Robert Whittaker is the only fighter to beat Romero in the UFC. How would DC’s wrestling matchup with Romero’s, and could the Cuban’s heavier weight add even more value to his already frightening knockout power? This is a fight that needs to happen.
The welterweight division is set in stone. Tyron Woodley has been a model champion, who has actively defended his belt and done so against the best in the division. The UFC still managed to fabricate a fake belt though, when it handed Colby Covington the interim title, much to everyone’s dismay. Covington is trying to spice up a division that has become boring since Robbie Lawler lost the belt. Fair play to him, but he is nowhere near Woodley’s level and I expect to see Woodley make a mockery of him later in the year when the two finally meet each other. Once Covington is finished with that fight, I’d like to see him matched up with a fighter he has been recently trolling online, Nick Diaz. Diaz has a strong following and the UFC is really missing his presence when it comes to pay-per-view sales. Against Covington, the two match up evenly in the endurance department, while Diaz holds the superior striking. Covington’s youth is on his side but his wrestling could be used cautiously given Nick’s elite ground game. The trash talk alone leading up to this fight would sell crazy numbers.
Speaking of the Diaz brothers, what is Nate even doing with his life these days? The lightweight division is the strongest in the whole organisation, and Diaz is selling himself short not cashing in on his superstar status. A fight with either Tony Ferguson, Eddie Alvarez or Justin Gaethje would be a fight of the year candidate and draw huge numbers in doing so. Obviously he is still holding out for that third fight with Conor Mcgregor but who knows what his plans are either. The UFC wants to book Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor first, before Diaz and McGregor, potentially for the title, to square off the trilogy. In a perfect world, Khabib and Ferguson will finally face each other and everybody is happy.
Looking at the UFC’s pound-for-pound rankings, there are several hypothetical matchups from that list alone that are worth noting. The events following UFC 227 will be closely monitored, given the talk surrounding a fight between number two ranked Demetrious Johnson and number six ranked TJ Dillashaw. This is a fight that “Mighty Mouse” needs to take to solidify his name at the top of the all time greats list. It is also a chance for him to be a part of a main event that fans will jump at the opportunity of watching. Number seven ranked Woodley is lower on the list than UFC legend Georges St-Pierre, who comes in at number five. A fight between the two of them would make the company a lot of money, bringing in fans from multiple generations. The title for the UFC’s scariest female fighter could be put up for grabs if Cris Cyborg and Amanda Nunes finally agree on a date and square off with one another. This would no doubt be the highest selling female main event since Ronda Rousey retired. It would be a fitting finale for Cyborg, who seems to be set on leaving the organisation at the beginning of next year.
In this day and age, it seems like rankings are slowly becoming less and less relevant and a lot of fighters are suffering from it. Gone are the days when a fighter would start at the bottom and work their way up, bit by bit until they eventually made it to the top. Nowadays, being the best in the world doesn’t necessarily get you to the top, and getting to the top doesn’t necessarily come from being the best in the world. This is largely thanks to the likes of Lesnar, Rousey and McGregor, and the millions of fans that tune into their fights. Are we going to boycott these superfights in order to see a fairer system for fighters to make it to a title shot? Of course we are not, because the superfights are fun to watch. Just don’t be surprised, Dana White, when the PPV numbers come back from the lesser known/promoted fighters and the sales aren’t what you expected them to be. If you want to make a quick buck and keep this circus rolling, why don’t you strap on the gloves and step inside the octagon with Brendan Schaub? I know a lot of people would pay money to see that.