Conor McGregor faces Nate Diaz at UFC 196 on Saturday night knowing that a win will more than likely ensure that he will headline the promotion’s bumper event in July.
UFC 200 will take place in Las Vegas, and is set to break all previous revenue records.
A loss to Diaz would be crushing for the featherweight champion. However, should he overcome his American opponent on Saturday, who are the likely opponents for him at UFC 200?
Rafael Dos Anjos
The lightweight champion was due to face the Irishman this weekend, but had to pull out due to a broken foot.
Should Dos Anjos recover in time to get a full training camp in ahead of July, he is the obvious candidate to face McGregor.
Having won the featherweight title in December, the Dubliner is now eyeing up the 155lb division, and the Brazilian champion is standing in his way.
The fact that the promotion has already built up this fight ensures that it would prove a popular event, and thus an easy sell.
However, RDA is a dangerous fighter, and did not fall to the top. His all-round skill-set would be a challenge for Conor, and would be arguably his toughest task in the UFC to date.
Remember this guy? Aldo did not reach the 14th second of his bout with McGregor on December 12, but the fact that he had not been beaten for a decade beforehand means that it is not outside the realms of possibility that he could win a rematch.
It is certainly a match-up that the promotion are considering, as Dana White admitted that they contacted Aldo about fighting McGregor after Dos Anjos pulled out. He turned it down, possibly due to lack of preparation.
However, if he were to be offered the fight in July, he would not need to be asked twice. This is a fight that would sell, and Aldo will be eager to give a better account of himself than the last time out.
Then again, he does not need to prove to anybody how lethal he can be, after enjoying a reign at the top of the pound for pound rankings.
This would certainly be an interesting match-up. The night before Aldo vs McGregor, Frankie Edgar defeated Chad Mendes in the ‘Europa League’ of the featherweight division. ‘The Answer’ is next in line for a title shot, and could certainly ask some questions of his own.]
McGregor overcame Mendes last summer to prove his doubters wrong. Many thought that he would not be able to beat a wrestler, but he outlasted Mendes, winning at the end of the second round.
However, when the fight went to the floor, Mendes was perfectly happy to keep pounding away at the Irishman, rather than looking to finish him off with a submission.
Edgar would seek to submit the champion, a method by which he has lost in the past.
Is it time to think bigger? On Saturday night, McGregor will move up not one, but two weight classes. The UFC have shown faith in his ability to move up in weight, giving him his shot against RDA. Would they consider granting him another super-fight at UFC 200 against Lawler?
Lawler is ranked 8th in the pound for pound rankings, and is the king of the 170lb division, having overcome Carlos Condit, Rory MacDonald and Johny Hendricks in true battles over the past year.
Nate Diaz at 170lb will act as a litmus test for McGregor at welterweight, and if he comes through, then UFC match-makers would be very interested in pitting him up against Lawler for their flagship event this summer.
Well, this one will sell itself, won’t it?
Imagine: McGregor defeats Nate, so the bigger brother comes along to set things straight.
Nick has not fought in the UFC since his loss to Anderson Silva, and while it was declared a no-contest due to Silva’s performance-enhancing and his own recreational drug use, it still harmed the reputation of the 32 year-old. He has not won since beating BJ Penn at UFC 137, having lost subsequent fights to Carlos Condit and Georges St-Pierre.
Diaz can talk, and that’s what sells Pay-per-views. He will go toe-to-toe with McGregor in the trash-talking stakes, and could be capable of matching him in the octagon.
Of course, this is a rivalry that needs to develop, but expect tensions between the pair to grow in the lead-up to Saturday night.