THE UFC have now confirmed that a huge rematch between box office phenomenon Conor McGregor and his recent conquerer Nate Diaz will headline the biggest card in the promotion’s history at UFC 200.
One thing that the announcement of this fight has clearly re-iterated is this: McGregor has some balls! Over the past two years the Irish fighter, nicknamed “The Notorious”, has had a meteoric rise through the ranks of the UFC, culminating in him becoming the company’s biggest draw as well as its featherweight champion. Until he ran into Nate Diaz the first time around, McGregor’s performances had matched his braggadocio and many put the loss to Diaz down to the jump from 145 pounds to 170 pounds. Therefore Conor McGregor is showing his guts (or perhaps his naivety) by actively pushing for the rematch to again be at 170 pounds instead of the lightweight limit of 155, which Diaz would have agreed to (and the UFC wanted).
Is this a wise move though for either McGregor or the UFC? As a short term move this makes perfect business sense. There is no bigger draw in MMA right now than Conor McGregor and, given that he lost to Nate Diaz in his last bout, there is no more marketable opponent than the tough talking, hard hitting Stockton native. There will no doubt be as many fireworks at the press conferences as there will be inside the octagon; this will build the event and no doubt lead to UFC 200 breaking all sorts of MMA box office and pay per view records. On first glance then, a very smart move…
However the UFC are taking a risk, as is Conor McGregor himself. By making the fight at 170 pounds again, a layer of intrigue is added which in turn adds to the ‘Conor McGregor will fight anyone’ narrative. No doubt this drives up interest and pay per view buys. Yet the higher weight surely puts McGregor at a much higher risk of losing to a man who is naturally a lot bigger. In the first bout McGregor’s punches were simply not the ‘notorious’ weapon they are at featherweight and Diaz stood tall where smaller opponents had crumbled. Once both fighters realised that McGregor would not have the power to get the KO, Diaz upped his work rate and took over as the Irishman crumbled. What will have changed?
Should Conor McGregor lose again – and it would be back to back losses – then surely some of his box office shine will start to fade. Not only would this damage McGregor but the UFC could also potentially take a longer term box office hit, given that McGregor is their biggest money maker. I guess the UFC would, possibly legitimately, play the weight card and then look for McGregor to build again at lightweight, with a push for Nate Diaz to fight for either the welterweight or lightweight straps.
All in all it is a fight that fans can’t help but be excited about and both men will put everything in to it to make UFC 200 a memorable event. I just think that by going bigger again, Conor McGregor is making a big mistake.