Along with a steady supply of memorable one-liners, a ton of knockout power, and enough swagger for a Guy Ritchie film, Conor McGregor is never short of potential opponents, and since suffering an unexpected submission-loss to Nate Diaz earlier this month, everybody wants a shot at the UFC’s reigning featherweight king.
But despite a growing line of potential opponents, and previously stating his intention to defend his featherweight title in his next octagon outing, it appears that McGregor is headed for another meaningless match-up with Diaz, and of course, another huge payday.
Only an hour after his unsuccessful welterweight debut, a humbled McGregor was far more concerned with defending his featherweight title against one of the UFC’s top two 145-pound contenders than venturing beyond the division again anytime soon.
”It’s kind of hard not to give [Jose] Aldo another go,” said McGregor. ”He was 10 years undefeated but he pulls out a lot, he doesn’t show up a lot. Frankie [Edgar] at least gets in there and competes. I don’t know. I’ll keep my ear to the ground and see who the fans want to see the most.”
But after earning the biggest payday in UFC history for fighting a recently-irrelevant lightweight without having to endure another grueling weight cut, McGregor can’t really be blamed for wanting a second date with Diaz so soon.
While it’s added an intriguing dimension to the McGregor-mystique, his desire to compete in more than one weight class comes with consequences. Whether we see it or not, McGregor is still reeling from the worst of those consequences, and an immediate opportunity to earn his revenge is obviously influencing his plans.
But with both Edgar and Aldo ready to accept a meeting with McGregor, and more than a few lightweights looking to land a Diaz-like payday, another fight between the current featherweight king and the confident Californian isn’t nearly as intriguing as it was the first time around.
During a recent interview with Rolling Stone Magazine, even Diaz took a shot at the idea of an immediate rematch with the Irishman.
”So that’s crazy, Conor got worked over and now they’re saying ‘rematch’, which makes sense. I understand that,” said Diaz. ”I just think it’s funny because it’s like, Jose Aldo didn’t get a rematch.”
When an injury forced lightweight champ Rafael Dos Anjos to withdraw from his meeting with McGregor, subsequently forcing the UFC to hand Diaz a winning lottery ticket, fight fans stuck it out and bought the pay-per-view because McGregor’s last performance was so spectacular, his winning streak was still in tact, Diaz’ reputation as a seasoned trash-talker, and the women’s bantamweight title fight between Holly Holm and Miesha Tate.
This time around, McGregor’s air of UFC-invincibility no longer exists, we know that the results of the rematch isn’t going to effect any division, and three-plus months of verbal warfare between two of the sport’s best microphone assassins doesn’t change that.
Above all else, after watching McGregor fall to someone who, despite a recent win over Michael Johnson, wasn’t a legitimate title contender heading into UFC 196, fight fans want to know if the Irishman’s loss was a sign of things to come, or just a minor bump on his road to unparalleled success.
Other than his widespread popularity, curiosity concerning McGregor’s ability to bounce back is the only real reason to care about this fight, and regardless of what happens at UFC 200, it won’t be enough to make us forget that we we’re supposed to be watching a potentially-historic featherweight title fight.