Now that UFC 196 has gone the way of the ghost of UFC past, it's time to get prepped for the ghost of UFC future.
There's already a lot of buzz and rumors of what we can expect in the upcoming UFC 200 in July, so let's take a look at the 5 match-ups that WE'D like to see.
#5: Robbie Lawler vs. Georges St-Pierre for the Welterweight Title
It's been awhile since anyone has seen Georges St-Pierre in the octagon. In fact, it's been over two years since GSP vacated the welterweight title and left MMA at the top of his game. A return to the UFC ring would definitely be a fight worthy of acting as a headliner.
St-Pierre told the press during UFC 196 that he still hasn't made any decision on whether he would return or not. It doesn't mean conversations aren't occurring with UFC President Dana White.
"...have we been talking to Georges? Yes, we have -- but who knows? I honestly, right here, right now, don't know if Georges still wants to fight."
The most likely opponent for him would be Robbie Lawler who successfully defended the title against Carlos Condit in January. If Lawler wants to prove to the world that he's still the undisputed champ, he's going to have to take down the current one.
#4: Frankie Edgar vs. Max Halloway (or Anderson Silva)
Frankie Edgar has not been very subtle about his desires for a shot at the title and while, one day, he'll get his chance... we're pretty sure it ain't gonna be at UFC 200.
IF McGregor decides to drop back down and defend his featherweight title, the most likely candidate would be a rematch with Jose Aldo... a matchup we'll see further down this list. If that happens, then Edgar is going to have to wait a little longer for a chance to claim the belt.
In the meantime, the most sense would be for him to go up against Anderson Silva, BUT, if UFC 200 is chalked full of primo matches, the selling power of Silva might not be necessary. It would be better for business to reserve him for another day and time.
That would mean Edgar would need to fight someone else. That someone, logistically, should be Max Halloway. That way a clear number 1 contender is declared, making it obvious who's next in line for a shot at the title once McGregor figures out what he's doing.
If the night is a little lacking in fanfare (something that the historic UFC 200 will NOT lack in) a Edgar-Silva matchup will definitely help sell some ticket.
#3: Holly Holm vs. Amanda Nunes
Given the fact that it seems that UFC president, Dana White, seems to be willing to wait for Tate vs. Rousey at the end of the year, Holm has been pretty much put on the back burner at least in terms of a shot at reclaiming the title.
But that doesn't mean she shouldn't fight in the meantime. Her best option? Taking on Amanda Nunes. Not only would it be a legitimate fight, but it would keep Holm in contention for another run at the title after the dust settles from Rousey-Tate.
At the same time, Nunes is pretty much ready for her own shot at the title, but again, given the fact that the UFC is content with a Rousey-Tate three-peat, it doesn't look like that's going to happen for Nunes until next year.
In the meantime? The best option to keep BOTH fighters in the running for the title is a Holm-Nunes square off.
#2: Conor McGregor vs. Jose Aldo II (or Frankie Edgar) for the featherweight title
Although, McGregor has yet to make official any future plans, it's fair to say that his whole "one belt to rule them all" plan had a wrench thrown in it by Nate Diaz.
It would make the most sense for him to drop down in weight and defend his title in a rematch with Jose Aldo. A matchup that would leave Frankie Edgar outside looking in, yet again.
BUT, don't count Edgar out just yet. The reality right now in the UFC is that, even though McGregor lost, he's still a big draw and the UFC has backed him in whoever he wants to fight next.
Meaning that McGregor might not choose to let Aldo have a shot at reclaiming his title. He could give it to Edgar.
"It's hard not to give Aldo another shot; he was 10 years undefeated -- but then again, he pulls out a lot. He doesn't show up. Frankie at least gets in there and competes."
Let's not forget that Aldo also had a chance to step in to replace Rafael dos Anjos and didn't take it. That might score some point in Edgar's favor.
Let's face facts though...from a business sense, McGregor-Aldo II has way more marketability than McGregor-Edgar and McGregor might have lost a little bit of sway in picking his opponents since his loss to Diaz. Only time will tell, but either way, expect McGregor to face off against one of these two.
#1: Rafael dos Anjos vs. Nate Diaz II for the lightweight title
If you look at the numbers, this is a bit of a long shot, but it IS an interesting one.
On paper, Diaz doesn't deserve a shot at the lightweight title. He's 2-3 in his last lightweight fights and, technically, his win over McGregor was in the welterweight division.
So why have him fight dos Anjos? Simple. Marketability.
There was so much drama surrounding the dos Anjos-McGregor match up. From McGregor's road to belt dominance, to dos Anjo's breaking his foot, to trying to find a suitable replacement, to finally landing on Nate Diaz.
Whether he deserves a chance or not, it would be smart for the UFC to cash in on that drama. To have Diaz fight the man he stepped in for and actually won when (almost) everyone thought he couldn't.
And in theory, dos Anjos SHOULD want that fight. Diaz, for all intents and purposes, stole the opportunity to beat McGregor away from dos Anjos.
By stepping in for dos Anjos (and ultimately beating McGregor) Diaz's career and stock is at an all time high. It would be the perfect time for him to be thrust into a big match and prove that he deserves to be there.
Let's not forget our history though... dos Anjos pummeled Diaz back in December 2014. Pretty sure that won't sway Diaz too much. It would only give him TWO things to accomplish... beating dos Anjos and proving to the world that he deserves to wear a belt around his waist.