With the eyes of the MMA world firmly locked on UFC 205 at the moment, it seems as if we've been overlooking the interesting situation currently brewing on the next major card on the horizon, UFC 206. Chiefly, that not a single fight has been booked for the event, despite it being just a few months away.
While not exactly unprecedented for the UFC, the complete lack of developments regarding UFC 206 is certainly still surprising when you consider that the card will mark the UFC's first trip to Canada -- a land that was being dubbed "the new Mecca of the sport" not all that long ago -- for a tentpole event since UFC 186 in April of last year. But, as I always say, who needs Joe Silva when you've got a semi-competent fanboy writer with a Wikipedia page of the UFC's current roster open on another tab? Joe, Sean, Dana, you can thank me later. Here are six must-see fights for UFC 206 to get you started.
1. Patrick Cote vs. Matt Brown
The UFC has always been wise to the idea of sprinkling some local flavor throughout a card when traveling to a foreign land, and in the Great White North, it doesn't get more handsome, I mean flavorful, no I mean handsome, than Patrick Cote. The Quebec native has been a staple of the UFC for the past decade, fighting from light heavyweight all the way down to welterweight, and notching impressive victories over the likes of Josh Burkman, Alessio Sakara, and Kendall Grove along the way.
Booking the iron-jawed Cote against an always-game scrapper like Matt Brown would be the easiest way to ensure that whatever portion of the card it winds up on draws some eyes. Both guys are coming off surprising losses (in that Cote's came via TKO and that Brown's came against who it came against) to Donald Cerrone and Jake Ellenberger, respectively, and the fight would be a guaranteed slugfest from start to finish. Just to liven things up, I say you slap a Number 1 contender label on the bout, because whatever, there are no more rules when it comes to title shots anymore! YAY ANARCHY!!!!
2. Steve Bosse vs. Nikita Krylov
A former hockey enforcer turned hammer-fisted knockout artist, Steve Bosse is basically Canada's answer to Chuck Norris, . Another byproduct of Quebec, Bosse has bounced back from a vicious KO loss to Thiago Santos in his promotional debut with two straight victories in the octagon, including a decision win against Sean O'Connell back at Fight Night 89 in June that will easily go down as one of the greatest slugfests of 2016 when we're all trotting out our "Best of the Year" lists in December.
Nikita Krylov, on the other hand, has been on an absolute tear since dropping down to the light heavyweight division, scoring five straight stoppage victories over veterans including Stanislav Nedkov and TUF 3 runner-up Ed Herman alike. Given both men's penchant for throwing caution to the wind and heavy leather at the cranial region of whomever is standing in front of them, there's next to no way that this thing would end up with a Sportscenter-worthy highlight that will nonetheless be ignored by Sportscenter in favor of yet another MLB double play.
(Seriously, you guys, I've never even seen Bryce Harper throw a head kick, let alone KO someone with it.)
3. Mickey Gall vs. Sage Northcutt
Having now wiped the floor with Phil "CM Punk" Brooks back at UFC 203, Mickey Gall has quickly become the most famous mixed martial artist with a 3-0 record since Brock Lesnar. Sage Northcutt, on the other hand, was one of the UFC's most valued commodities before even signing to the promotion by virtue of looking and acting like a Power Ranger come to life. The two have already traded barbs and verbally agreed to a bout down the line, so why not make this thing official for UFC 206 and let the (curse-free, if you're Sage) trash-talking begin?
4. Max Holloway vs. Anthony Pettis
Yes, we'd all like to see Max Holloway get his much-deserved title shot against Conor McGregor or Jose Aldo, for that matter, but with the former challenging Eddie Alvarez for the lightweight belt in November, and the latter looking for any possible way to get released from his contract, it looks like neither one of those dream match-ups is in the cards, for the time being. In the meantime, why not match Holloway up against Pettis, a former lightweight champ who looked like a fighter reborn in his featherweight debut against Charles Oliveira in August?
If "Showtime" wants to get his name on the short list of challengers for the featherweight title that Conor McGregor is very likely going to vacate if he beats Alvarez, then there would be no quicker way to do so than with a victory over the surging Holloway, who I believe has won something like 115 straight fights dating back to 1997. Heck, why not make this fight for the featherweight belt and see exactly how set on leaving the promotion Aldo is? Recent history has dictated that a title fight is nothing without a story, and a story is nothing without a little backstabbing. Not any story I'm interested in, anyway.
5. Dominick Cruz vs. Cody Garbrandt
With Ronda Rousey vs. Cris Cyborg and the Cormier-Johnson and Werdum-Velasquez rematches all currently being rumored to transpire on the at UFC 207 on December 30th, the UFC has been left with pretty limited options in terms of which high-profile and/or title fights it could possibly house just 20 days earlier on the Canadian card. One fight that hasn't been linked to the promotion's always-extravagant year-end card, however, is that of bantamweight champion, Dominick Cruz vs. Team Alpha Male contender, Cody Garbrandt.
Well, barely, at least.
While Garbrandt has hinted that the clash might be going down at 207, one could argue that placing the bantamweight title fight in the main event of UFC 206 would make a lot more sense. It's got a recognizable champion in Cruz, a dangerous challenger with a long highlight reel in Garbrandt, and better yet, a legitimate rivalry to fuel the storyline. Rather than having the fight get lost in the shuffle of UFC 207's already-epic lineup, why not give it (and the oft-underappreciated bantamweight division) some room to stand on its own at UFC 206? Besides, you don't want Cruz putting on a 25-minute striking clinic right before Cormier puts on a 25-minute grappling one, anyway. Even by UFC standards, that would be some terrible pacing.
6. Georges St-Pierre vs. Literally Anyone (but in this case, Robbie Lawler)
Now, I am not going to pick apart all the excellent choices that Justin made in his own piece on this subject, but to play devil's advocate for a moment, let's pick apart all the choices Justin made in his own piece on this subject.
Nick Diaz? An unreliable screw-up who was last seen ripping monster-sized blunts with Snoop Dogg on the set of his new TV show (seriously though, you're the best, Nick).
Stephen Thompson? Fighting at UFC 205, and not likely to recover from the wrecking balls that Tyron Woodley will hit him with in time for UFC 206.
Michael Bisping? Fighting at UFC 204 next week, and not likely to ever recover from the coma he will be placed in when Dan Henderson reenacts their first fight on him again. (I'm kidding, of course) (Or am I???)
Anderson Silva? Possibly, but you just know that jilted MMA fans would only use the fight to complain about "what could have been" when both guys were in their prime.
By my count, that leaves only one viable option: Robbie Lawler. Who better than a fellow, former welterweight champion to welcome the greatest former welterweight champion of all time back to the Octagon? St-Pierre has made it clear that he's already started the USADA process to make his comeback, and has been hinting for months now that it might happen before the start of 2017. Dana White, on the other hand, has been consistently questioning whether or not St-Pierre even has the drive or determination to fight again, and a fight against one of the toughest, hardest-hitting guys to ever step foot into the cage would be the quickest way to quash those notions.
Basically, if you're not 100% in on this fight, then you're a terrorist.
So, there you have it: all the most relevant fights for the UFC to make in its triumphant return to the land of cheese curd-covered french fries and weirdly shaped bacon that just tastes like regular bacon. I'm not sure why all my stereotypes about Canada date back to food, but regardless, it would damn near be impossible to look over a lineup like this without feeling a similar hunger: the hunger to witness incredible displays of tasty violence.
Who would you like to see compete at UFC 206?