Yesterday, UFC president Dana White and CEO Lorenzo Fertitta announced the first few fights from a megastacked card for UFC 200.
A milestone for the promotion, the fight card already features a heavyweight bout between Cain Velasquez and Travis Browne, a welterweight fight between former champ Johny Hendricks and Kelvin Gastelum, and a middleweight war between Gegard Mousasi and Derek Brunson.
The main question that many fans were asking was who and what would be the main event for UFC 200? Thankfully, a title bout was on the card... and it was at featherweight. However... it didn't feature the division's champion, Conor McGregor.
Rather, the co-main event will see the second fight between Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar for the interim featherweight championship belt, something that hasn't gone down all that well with many fans.
It's hard not to feel sorry for either fighter, but more so for Frankie Edgar. Promised back in December that he would be getting a title shot, and called out numerous times by McGregor (including after the loss to Nate Diaz), it almost feels like a cop out to give him an interim title shot first. Frankie and his team have been campaigning for a title shot for months now, and time and time again they're left heartbroken and angry at broken promises.
Thankfully, Dana White has already confirmed that the winner of Aldo/Edgar 2 will face Conor McGregor in a unification fight, most likely heading for Madison Square Garden later this year.
The main event for the evening will inevitably feature the biggest draw in the promotion, Conor McGregor, taking on Nate Diaz for a second time in hopes of avenging his loss. The rematch will again be at welterweight, and again have nothing on the line for each fighter bar a massive payday and the chance for McGregor to right a wrong. However, if McGregor loses once again, many fear that his aura of confidence will fully dissipate. The man who once seemed unbeatable, now humbled to his knees with back to back losses against the same opponent.
The fact that the main event at UFC 200 will not be a championship fight has made many fans annoyed and disappointed. The idea that Conor McGregor now takes credence over belts as the most exciting fight to be booked has proven to some fans that the UFC only cares about money.
There's no denying that July 9 will be one of the most lucrative nights in the UFC's history. That's a fact. Yet, wouldn't it of been amazing to watch Conor McGregor walk out at the MGM Grand, to face either Edgar or Aldo in the Octagon for his title?
The idea that Aldo and Edgar will fight for the interim belt is also a troubling idea for many fans. Interim belts are used when a champion is neither fit or healthy to defend his belt, much like when Aldo was injured prior to his fight with McGregor. With McGregor obviously both fit and healthy to defend his belt, the idea that an interim belt will be contested on the same fight card that he is on shows that the UFC truly is the Conor McGregor show now.
It looks like Mystic Mac was right when he boldly exclaimed 'We're not here to take part, we're here to take over'.
However, it's not entirely unfair either to have an interim belt contested on that night. To ask the Notorious to vacate his belt would also be a poor decision on behalf of the UFC. Dana White has continually defended McGregor in the press, confirming that the Irishman truly has an "anywhere, anyone, anytime" fighting attitude. In fact, Conor McGregor has fought 8 times in just under three years in the UFC, with two being Featherweight championship bouts.
Add to his grueling fight schedule the amount of work he does outside of the Octagon and in the press, and you've got to give it to the Irishman. He works his ass off for the company, constantly promoting the brand and helping bring in hundreds of thousands of new fans and millions in revenue. Conor McGregor can call the shots because he's earned the right to do so through his hard work, determination and utter devotion to the sport and company.
Following his second round win, Nate Diaz has been vocal in his views on the promotion and their plans. The Stockton native feels, and rightly so, that he put a massive hole in the UFC 200 plans when he submitted Conor McGregor. In fact, he has alleged that Dana White had been calling him for months prior to the Dos Anjos injury, in the hopes he'd take the fight on short notice.
The Jiu-Jitsu black belt has felt under-appreciated since his win that partially derailed the McGregor hype train. In the lead up to the fight, Diaz felt many weren't taking him seriously and the UFC veteran couldn't understand why. His claims that McGregor hasn't fought anyone of real calibre, compared to him who has been facing top 10 contenders since his third fight in the UFC were seemingly confirmed at UFC 196.
However, like it or not, UFC 200 will see the McGregor vs. Diaz rematch. Many thought that perhaps the duo would drop down to lightweight for the rematch, but the fight will once again be at welterweight, something that apparently both Dana White and Coach Kavanagh had tried convincing McGregor not to take.
Although with myself being a massive Conor McGregor fan, I have to personally say this was not the fight I wanted to see. I would of loved to have seen Conor take on Frankie Edgar at 200 in a title defense, with Aldo fighting Max Holloway on the same card.
If McGregor truly wanted this rematch, and was obsessed with getting it, I would have loved to of seen the UFC give Diaz a shot at the lightweight title against RDA and potentially set up an even bigger McGregor/Diaz rematch at 155lbs for the belt.
However, like many, I'll still be tuned in on July 9, eager to see how the rematch will play out as both fighters undergo a full camp knowing what lies ahead.