Shortly after Conor McGregor suffered a brutal submission loss to late-replacement Nate Diaz in the re-worked UFC 196 Welterweight pay-per-view (PPV) main event earlier this month, "Notorious" took to the post-fight press conference dais and surmised he would return to Featherweight next to defend his 145-pound title.
Three weeks later, McGregor is booked to rematch Diaz in the non-title main event of UFC 200, which will take place inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Sat., July 9, 2016 (full details here). Considering the significance of UFC 200, it might seem a little "crazy" to feature the 145-pound champion in a rematch against a man who was shooting tequila in Mexico days before he trounced him at 170 pounds.
So crazy, in fact, that company president Dana White had to explain the decision-making process on ESPN's "SportsCenter" earlier this evening.
"He was obsessed -- obsessed with fighting Nate Diaz again. Obviously, Lorenzo [Fertitta] and I tried to argue with him and said, 'Let's go back to 145 (pounds) and defend your title. Or if you really want the Diaz fight that bad, do it at 155 (pounds).' He wants the fight at 170. Even his coach [John Kavanagh] tried to get him to get off the rematch and off the 170-pound fight, but it's what he wanted."
It's crystal clear that McGregor is UFC's most valuable star, attracting record-breaking PPV sales and pocketing historic disclosed salaries. It's all about the money, and no one reels it in quite like McGregor (read a full financial breakdown here). Then again, McGregor going against the advice from the man who seemingly knows him best, Kavanagh, as well as White and Co., screams risk.
Most fight fans wanted to see McGregor defend his Featherweight title, which he won in Dec. 2015 with a 13-second knockout of Jose Aldo. But, rather than hold the division hostage while McGregor saunters down the path to personal revenge, UFC has booked former division champion, Aldo, to battle ex-Lightweight champion, Frankie Edgar, in an interim Featherweight title fight (full details here).
That fight, too, is one that fight fans have seen before, with Aldo earning a decision over Edgar several years ago. Perhaps the silver lining, at least for Aldo and Edgar, is the winner of that fight will definitely battle McGregor later this year to unify the belts.
"Win, lose or draw in this fight against Nate Diaz, (McGregor) will go in and fight either Jose or Frankie ... Whoever wins at UFC 200."
Believe it when we see it.