After an injury to featherweight champion Max Holloway scuppered his scheduled bout with Frankie Edgar at UFC 222, UFC matchmakers are scrambling to find a new main event for the badly dented March 3rd card on just a few weeks notice.
According to reports from MMAFighting journalist Ariel Helwani, the promotion is trying to get a new opponent for Edgar and are close to securing third-ranked featherweight contender Brian Ortega for the role. That fight, however, is not really a suitable Pay-per-view headliner, so an effort is also being made to book another marquee match-up.
A rematch between UFC bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw and former teammate turned bitter rival Cody Garbrandt seems to have been the first choice but Dillashaw told ESPN’s Brett Okamoto on Saturday that he was not interested in the fight at this point.
With few other champions or big names currently available to them, the UFC must be feeling pretty desperate.
There is one very interesting option remaining though.
Last month, Nate Diaz claimed on social media that he was finally getting the itch to return to the octagon, adding that he was targeting May or June. Perhaps sensing that he might be in a strong negotiating position, however, Diaz told Lance Pugmire of the Los Angeles Times on Sunday that he would be very much interested in returning to headline and save UFC 222.
— Lance Pugmire (@latimespugmire) February 4, 2018
A lack of notice, of course, was never likely to be a major discouraging factor for Diaz, as he was given just ten days to prepare before scoring the biggest win of his career to date, a second-round submission victory over Conor McGregor at UFC 196 in March of 2016.
The return of Diaz, who hasn’t fought since dropping a majority decision to McGregor in a rematch at UFC 202 in August of 2016, would be a huge Pay-per-view draw, far, far more so than even the original main event of the show.
As far as potential opponents for Diaz go, former lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez and recent interim lightweight title challenger Kevin Lee have both been calling out the Stockton slugger since he teased his return last month. Both would make for intriguing, entertaining, marketable fights.
Hey, Nate Diaz vs. anyone sounds pretty awesome at this point.