Conor McGregor vs. Nate Diaz rematch headlines UFC 200
0:47 | MMA
Conor McGregor vs. Nate Diaz rematch headlines UFC 200
Tuesday April 5th, 2016

Fighting is all about angles, and so is fight promoting. 

The UFC is the leader among mixed martial arts ventures, and Dana White & Co. want even more than that. They’ve grown into a player in the larger sports world, though they’re still lingering on the fringes, looking in. They aspire to be all in. 

With the emergence of Ronda Rousey and then Conor McGregor, the UFC has stars who can stand up to the brightest lights in all of sports, all of celebrity. Their shine intensified as they continued to win and win. One of them, the whole time, was talking while winning. Both were raising the ceiling. 

But now there are threats to that prosperity. “Rowdy Ronda” lost for the first time. Then she disappeared behind an airplane pillow and dreams of domesticity. And before you knew it, “The Notorious” had been defeated, too. 

Neither was a total loss, though, at least not from a mercenary’s viewpoint. A different angle, if you will. Both Rousey’s dethroning at UFC 193 and McGregor being cut down to size at UFC 197 drew more than a million pay-per-view buys. The Irishman’s previous fight also had reached that number, and Rousey’s most recent dance had nearly touched the milestone. There is money to be made on the coattails of these stars. 

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​​So when McGregor did not shrink from his defeat, and instead set his sights on a rematch with his conqueror, the UFC was not displeased. A rematch with the fiery enigma known as Nate Diaz was guaranteed to do business, more so than a defense of McGregor’s featherweight belt against No. 1 contender Frankie Edgar, an explosive fighter but no loose cannon. 

The problem is, the Edgar fight was the right one to book if the UFC took its hierarchy seriously—that is, if the promotion assembled its pecking order based on merit, and cared about championship belts. The first meeting of McGregor and Diaz had made sense. It grew out of a reasonable detour for the Irishman, who upon winning the 145-pound championship immediately issued a challenge to 155-pound king Rafael Dos Anjos. And when the lightweight belt holder had to pull out of the champ-vs.-champ superfight with an injury, it sure was some tasty lemonade the UFC concocted with its short-notice McGregor vs. Diaz rebooking, a Plan B that was worthy of the A-list. That the fight was contested at welterweight was an appropriate convenience. 

But now? Now we have Diaz-McGregor II, the marquee attraction for July’s gala UFC 200. What’s truly discombobulating about this matchmaking is that McGregor is once again declining to defend his 145-pound strap. No, the belt will sit collecting dust while, on the same Las Vegas fight card, Edgar will do a tug-of-war with ex-champ José Aldo for an interim belt. 

Why would you book an interim title fight when the real champ is healthy enough to be competing on the very same night? 

You do it because the championship belts you award lack true meaning. They’re merely props for your hype campaigns. 

If the UFC was so determined to pay back McGregor for saving big PPV events by agreeing to two straight short-notice opponent changes, fine. Give him the Diaz rematch he craves. But as part of the fight agreement, he should have been required to relinquish the featherweight belt. That way Edgar and Aldo would be tussling for the real thing, not a participation ribbon. 

And what of the rankings? When a fighter who’s in the Top 10 in a particular division begins competing in a different weight class, we usually adjust our rankings. So now that McGregor is preparing for his second straight welterweight fight, is it legitimate for us to keep him in our featherweight Top 10? 

“The Notorious” is staying put in the featherweight and pound-for-pound rankings for now, only because the UFC insists that after Diaz, his next fight will be a defense against the Edgar-Aldo winner. Now, fans and pundits alike have expressed serious doubts over whether McGregor will ever fight at 145 pounds again, after two straight at 170. But when has Dana White ever promised us something that didn’t come true?'s P4P MMA Rankings
  • 1
    1Jon Jones
    Light Heavyweight
    Record: 21–1–0
    Last fight: W (R5 UD) Daniel Cormier, Jan. 3, 2015

  • 2
    2Demetrious Johnson
    Flyweight champ
    Record: 22–2–1
    Last fight: W (R5 UD) John Dodson, Sept. 5, 2015

  • 3
    3Fabricio Werdum
    Heavyweight champ
    Record: 20–5–1
    Last fight: W (R3 Sub) Cain Velasquez, June 13, 2015

  • 4
    Middleweight champ
    Record: 15–2–0
    Last fight: W (R4 TKO) Chris Weidman, Dec. 12, 2015

  • 5
    Lightweight champ
    Record: 24–7–0
    Last fight: W (R1 TKO) Donald Cerrone, Dec. 19, 2015

  • 6
    Welterweight champ
    Record: 26–10–0
    Last fight: W (R5 SD) Carlos Condit, Jan. 2, 2016

  • 7
    Bantamweight champ
    Record: 21–2–0
    Last fight: W (R5 SD) T.J. Dillashaw , Jan. 17, 2016

  • 8
    Featherweight champ
    Record: 19–3–0
    Last fight: L (R2 Sub) Nate Diaz, March 5, 2016

  • 9
    Light heavyweight
    Record: 17-1
    Last fight: W (R5 SD) Alexander Gustafsson, Oct. 23, 2015

  • 10
    Record: 20-4-1
    Last fight: W (R1 KO) Chad Mendes, Dec.11, 2015

On to the rest of the rankings …


1. Fabricio Werdum (20-5-1)
2. Cain Velasquez (13-2)
3. Stipe Miocic (14-2)
4. Ben Rothwell (36-9)
5. Alistair Overeem (40-14)
6. Junior dos Santos (17-4)
7. Andrei Arlovski (25-11, 1 NC)
8. Mark Hunt (12-10-1)
9. Travis Browne (18-3-1)
10. Vitaly Minakov (17-0)

OK, guys, you can stop holding your breath. Yes, I heard Jon Jones proclaim—after Daniel Cormier had pulled out of their scheduled title fight the other day—that he’d take on any light heavyweight OR HEAVYWEIGHT on short notice. But he has his fight, and it’s against a 205-pounder. You can breathe again.

Light heavyweight

1. Jon Jones (21-1)
2. Daniel Cormier (17-1)
3. Anthony Johnson (21-5)
4. Alexander Gustafsson (16-4)
5. Ryan Bader (20-5)
6. Phil Davis (13-3, 1 NC)
7. Glover Teixeira (24-4)
8. Liam McGeary (11-0)
9. Rashad Evans (19-4-1)
10. Ovince Saint Preux (19-7)

Saint Preux has a lot of bodies blocking his path to the head of the queue, but now he’s stumbled on an express lane to front and center. All he has to do now is take care of one small detail: beating Jones on April 23.


1. Luke Rockhold (15-2)
2. Chris Weidman (13-1)
3. Ronaldo Souza (22-4, 1 NC)
4. Vitor Belfort (25-11)
5. Lyoto Machida (22-7)
6. Tim Kennedy (18-5)
7. Michael Bisping (27-7)
8. Anderson Silva (33-6)
9. Gegard Mousasi (38-6-2)
10. Robert Whittaker (15-4)

Yoel Romero is not on the above list, because he’s on suspension after failing a USADA drug test in January. On Monday, however, he reached a settlement with the regulatory body, which acknowledged that the Cuban had popped for a banned substance that was not listed on the label of the supplement he took. As a result, Romero faces a retroactive six-month ban, which makes him eligible to fight in July. Will he get the title shot he earned with his December win over “Jacare” Souza?


1. Robbie Lawler (27-10, 1 NC)
2. Rory MacDonald (18-3)
3. Stephen Thompson (12-1)
4. Tyron Woodley (15-3)
5. Johny Hendricks (17-4)
6. Matt Brown (20-13)
7. Ben Askren (14-0)
8. Carlos Condit (30-9)
9. Demian Maia (22-6)
10. Dong Hyun Kim (21-3-1, 1 NC)

Askren is out of sight, out of mind for a lot of fans in the United States now that he’s competing in Asia for the One FC promotion. He has a fight this month, though, defending his welterweight title against Russian Nikolay Aleksakhin on April 15 in Manila. Problem is, the $10 live stream of the fight is wedged into a weekend that already has a UFC event on free Fox and Benson Henderson’s Bellator debut on Spike.


1. Rafael dos Anjos (25-7)
2. Khabib Nurmagomedov (22-0)
3. Tony Ferguson (20-3)
4. Donald Cerrone (29-7, 1 NC)
5. Eddie Alvarez (27-4)
6. Anthony Pettis (18-4)
7. Nate Diaz (19-10)
8. Will Brooks (16-1)
9. Beneil Dariush (12-1)
10. Edson Barboza (16-4)

Nurmagomedov and Ferguson go at it April 16 in Tampa for the one available space on the elevator that’s waiting to take the winner to the penthouse pad of RDA. The possibilities among that trio are startling and all over the map.


1. Conor McGregor (19-3)
2. Frankie Edgar (20-4-1)
3. José Aldo (25-2)
4. Chad Mendes (17-4)
5. Max Holloway (15-3)
6. Ricardo Lamas (16-4)
7. Charles Oliveira (21-5, 1 NC)
8. Daniel Straus 25-6)
9. Patricio Freire (24-3)
10. Cub Swanson (21-7)

Yeah, McGregor’s still on top here, even though he’s not here. It would have been reasonable to drop him from the Top 10 of a division that he’ll soon be abandoning for his second straight fight. At the same time, he’s been active and at least is giving lip service to a return to 145 pounds. So he gets to stay, even if he won’t stay put.


1. Dominick Cruz (21-1)
2. T.J. Dillashaw (12-3)
3. Renan Barão (33-3, 1 NC)
4. Urijah Faber (32-8)
5. Raphael Assunção (23-4)
6. Aljamain Sterling (12-0)
7. Thomas Almeida (20-0)
8. John Dodson (17-7)
9. Bibianio Fernandes (16-3)
10. Marcos Galvão​ (17-6-1)

Barão is back, but he’s gone. (Don’t worry, this isn’t going to go down exactly like McGregor’s situation.) The former champion in this weight class, having lost two of his last three, is bulking up to featherweight. A move up has seemed imminent forever, even while he reigned here at 135, but the timing is curious, given that the Brazilian’s two-time conqueror, Dillashaw, isn’t still the belt holder. I mean, a guy Barão beat twice is about to challenge for the belt. Guess those extra 10 pounds were really weighing on you, Renan.


1. Demetrious Johnson (23-2-1)
2. Joseph Benavidez (23-4)
3. Henry Cejudo (10-0)
4. Ali bagautinov (13-4)
5. Jussier da Silva (18-4)
6. Zach Makovsky (19-7)
7. John Moraga (16-4)
8. Kyoji Horiguchi (15-2)
9. Wilson Reis (20-6)
10. Justin Scoggins (11-2)

While we’ve been busy revving up our collective metabolism for the April 23 “Mighty Mouse” title defense against Cejudo, we didn’t notice John Dodson’s disappearing act. He’s moving up 10 pounds to make a go at the bantamweight belt.

Women's bantamweight

1. Miesha Tate (18-5)
2. Holly Holm (10-1)
3. Ronda Rousey (12-1)
4. Cat Zingano (9-1)
5. Alexis Davis (17-6)
6. Amanda Nunes (12-4)
7. Julianna Peña (7-2)
8. Tonya Evinger (17-5)
9. Sara McMann (8-3)
10. Julianna Peña (7-2)

So which rematch makes the most sense, Tate giving a shot to the woman she dethroned or taking another shot at the ex-champ who’s twice arm-barred her? I don’t see Tate-Rousey III as a legitimate title fight; you don’t get a shot coming off a loss, unless your target is the one who took you down. That’s my rule. It’s not the UFC’s, though, so it’ll be interesting to see what’s next for Tate.

Women's strawweight

1. Joanna Jedrzejczyk (11-0)
2. Claudia Gadelha (13-1)
3. Jessica Aguilar (19-5)
4. Carla Esparza (10-3)
5. Rose Namajunas (4-2)
6. Karolina Kowalkiewicz (8-0)
7. Valerie Letourneau (8-4)
8. Joanne Calderwood (9-1)
9. Tecia Torres (7-0)
10. Maryna Moroz (6-1)

Jedrzejczyk and Gadelha don’t like each other. They’ve made that clearer than a blue sky over Olstyn. Or Rio. Too bad they have to wait until July 8 to express their mutual disdain fistically.

Follow Jeff Wagenheim on Twitter at @jeffwagenheim and on Facebook at

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