While it appears all is rosy between Conor McGregor and the UFC again, recent activity by the promotion suggests they are still bearing a grudge against their fallen star. The ‘Notorious’ got his request for a rematch with Nate Diaz but he didn’t get back on UFC 200 like he wished.
It has been no secret that McGregor has been using his drawing power as leverage against the promotion for more money and getting the fights that he wants. While the promotion has been granting their prized asset his wishes with regard to match-ups and undoubtedly money also, it looks as though they are trying to stifle his drawing power.
UFC 202 has just one fight announced and that is the main event rematch between McGregor and Diaz, yet UFC 203 already has two huge fights confirmed and more soon to be announced. While this may not mean much to the naked eye, the decision to put CM Punk vs Mickey Gall on UFC 203 could be viewed as an attempt to limit the number of pay-per-view buys UFC 202 can reach.
The highly-anticipated debut of WWE superstar CM Punk was believed to be in the works for UFC 202 until very recently and then there was a last-minute change to 203 in Cleveland. Add this to the promotion’s decision to announce the rematch for UFC 202 on the same night they announced the return of Brock Lesnar, and it looks more and more like the UFC is trying to underplay the UFC 202 main event.
It seems almost unbelievable that the promotion would want an event to get less PPVs than it has the potential to but it seems they are terrified that if McGregor and Diaz outscore UFC 200 on the PPV numbers, he will be able to demand extortionate money.
This could also be orchestrated out of frustration by the company Zuffa as a parting gift for the new owners, but Lesnar’s late inclusion on the already sterling UFC 200 card shows that promotion are going all out to beat the 1.6 million PPV buys record. McGregor vs Diaz 2 is also likely to beat that record but will be hurt by a weaker card than is normally expected for a big McGregor event.
At UFC 189, Mendes vs McGregor was co-headlined by the welterwight title fight between Robbie Lawler and Rory MacDonald and a litany of other stars also appeared on the card. At UFC 194 Aldo vs McGregor was co-headlined by the middleweight title fight between Chris Weidman and Luke Rockhold and also had several big name stars appear on the card. Similarly at UFC 196 McGregor vs Diaz was co-headlined by the women’s bantamweight title fight between Holly Holm and Miesha Tate in addition to a host of big name fighters.
That pattern is set to be broken at UFC 202, but only time will tell if this is just a punishment for the fallout of UFC 200 or if this is a pattern we are going to see going forward. Either way, McGregor will draw huge numbers and continue to be the sport’s biggest star.
Paul O’Dea, Pundit Arena
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