For all the excitement and expectation that has surrounded the return of Nate Diaz, the identity of the two fighters who will relegate him and Dustin Poirier to the co-main event slot is unclear.
Back in early August, we had a stab at figuring out exactly who the UFC 230 headliners were. And while a lot of the names mentioned in that piece have become tied down to other events or just completely ruled out – I feel as though it has become clear what the UFC have in mind.
It’s pretty odd to see a blockbuster fight-card set in Madison Square Garden with such a fantastic main-card but no headliner announced. We’re only about seven weeks out from the card but given the relative ease of the championship fight he just won, I believe that Tyron Woodley will take the fight.
Think about it. He didn’t encounter half as much resistance from his UFC 228 opponent Darren Till as we would have expected and from the moment he claimed the title back at UFC 201, he has made it clear that he wants those big, lucrative matchups.
The PPV points on offer would certainly be a massive incentive. A lot isn’t certain about how big a draw Nate Diaz can be on his own without his heated rival Conor McGregor but for Tyron, taking a gamble if he is injury-free might be in his best interests.
So who would he fight?
That’s an easy one. Colby Covington.
Woodley seems to finally have won over a significant portion of those who had derided him in the past following his dominant win over Till and with an opponent like Covington – the possibility of slipping into the ‘hero’ role to counter Colby’s ‘villain’ could be the perfect move for his career.
A lot will depend on Woodley’s willingness to make the quick turnaround but let’s not forget that he fought four times in the calendar year that began with him defeating Robbie Lawler at UFC 201 and ended with his unanimous decision victory over Demian Maia at UFC 214.
If Covington is fit in time and Tyron will take the fight, it’s clearly the move to make.
Jon Jones is also a long-shot, but who knows how his ongoing saga with USADA will unravel.
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena