While reports that Tyron ‘The Chosen One’ Woodley is set to face Nate Diaz at UFC 219 may have caught some fans off guard, there are a myriad of reasons why this fight is a perfect headliner for all parties involved.
Unlike other high-profile fights that capture the imagination of the public, this showdown will not hold up the division.
This will be Woodley’s sixth fight in less than two years and fourth title defence in just under fourteen months. T-Wood is the most active champion on the roster and has, to a degree, cleared the welterweight division.
While there is a wealth of emerging talent here (Till, Usman, Covington, Perry, Ponzinibbio), all these fighters are still realistically at least a win away from title contention.
The UFC chief, Dana White, has publicly said that the number one welterweight contender will be the man who has their hand raised when Robbie ‘The Brawler’ Lawler meets Rafael dos Anjos on December 16.
With Woodley’s proposed bout taking place two weeks later, this lines up perfectly for the winners of both to meet.
This fight would also present Woodley with the biggest opportunity of his career to promote himself and subsequently increase his popularity.
The Chosen One has an outspoken personality which has not particularly endeared him to fans who feel he is inclined to play the victim. This has been a struggle for the Missouri native.
Speaking on Woodley, Demian Maia made the following comments on which would resonate with a lot of fans:
“I see that pattern in him – he never knows if he wants to be a nice guy, or an arrogant guy, or a guy who promotes himself, or a good guy. He can’t go in one direction. I think this lack of coherence only hurts him. I think that’s why he’s a champion who doesn’t have a lot of charisma.”
With the talent Woodley has demonstrated in his reign as champ, it is likely that he will continue to play a key role in the coming years at welterweight so why not give him that extra push he craves, such would come with headlining this card. This will be of benefit to both Tyron Woodley and the UFC coffers.
The counter argument for this contest will be that Nate Diaz is in no way deserving of a title shot. He is currently the number six ranked contender at lightweight and has lost three of his last four contests at welterweight.
He does not match up favourably to the powerhouse that is Tyron Woodley and this is a fair point. Yet the fact remains, the UFC need a headliner for UFC 219 and there are very few alternative options available.
If Diaz were to return at lightweight to face Tony Ferguson, it is likely the UFC would have to strip Conor McGregor of his lightweight title. It would become very difficult to justify two interim title fights while McGregor remains fit and healthy.
This is a path the UFC would not like to go down as The Notorious One remains the most profitable fighter contracted.
As for how this fight will play out for Nate Diaz, he has nothing to lose and all to gain here. Whereas a loss at 155lbs would certainly park the McGregor trilogy fight, a defeat to the 170lb may not have the same effect.
And if he were to win, a potential trilogy with a welterweight title on the line has the potential to break all previous UFC PPV records.
Ultimately, this match-up will save the UFC 219 card while lining the pockets and boosting the publicity of both men involved. The best approach for fans may be to put the lunacy to one side, and enjoy what will no doubt be an entertaining main event.
Cathal Geeney, Pundit Arena