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UFC on FOX 17 Aftermath: All roads lead to Conor McGregor

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In his World Series-winning heyday with the New York Yankees, Hall of Fame slugger Reggie Jackson famously referred to himself as "the straw that stirs the drink."

That was a pretty outrageous statement back in the 1970s. But as the calendar turns to 2016, it's clear new UFC featherweight champion Conor McGregor is the man who deserves the label.

If one fighter calls you out in their post-fight interview? Routine stuff. Two? You must be an opponent in demand. But three of the top five winners on the evening stating they want you next? Well, that's rarified air.

There are two megafights you can pencil in for next year. One is the UFC women's bantamweight title rematch between Holly Holm and Ronda Rousey. The other is McGregor against whomever McGregor chooses to fight.

And the featherweight and lightweight rosters both know it. So let's take a look at the unprecedented number of callouts McGregor received Saturday night in Orlando at UFC on FOX 17:

*Charles Oliveira, who said he wanted a piece of McGregor after finishing Myles Jury? Yeah, that's cute. Oliveira missed weight by 4 1/2 pounds. McGregor might look like death warmed over at his weigh-ins, but he's never missed the featherweight limit. Oliveira's jiu-jitsu is undeniably slick but his propensity for missing weight isn't.

*Nate Diaz made his case for McGregor in the most entertaining, Diaz-y way imaginable, following his win over Michael Johnson. Diaz unleashed an f-bomb laden tirade which was almost entirely bleeped out live on FOX. Unedited versions from international broadcasts let everyone know what Diaz said.

"Conor McGregor, you're taking everything I worked for, motherf-----," Diaz said in an already infamous interview. "I'm gonna fight your f------ ass. You know what's the real fight, what's the real money fight -- me. Not these clowns that you already punked at the press conference."

Sure, we're can't lie: McGregor vs. Diaz would be f-u-n fun. It might have the greatest buildup to an MMA fight ever. It's also hard to justify making this fight when Diaz went into the evening with just one victory in the past three-and-a-half years. When Anderson Silva went up to light heavyweight for fun fights, it was in part because there was a dearth of quality contenders for his middleweight title. That's far from the case with McGregor in his division.

But McGregor-Diaz would likely make all involved more money than anything else on McGregor's plate, so you know UFC's going to give this one serious consideration.

*Last but certainly not least, there was lightweight champ Rafael dos Anjos, who gave McGregor his final callout of the night.

Many of us were less-than-secretly rooting for a McGregor-Donald Cerrone matchup, simply because of the personalities involved. But dos Anjos snuffed that out with ruthless precision, needing just 66 seconds to end Cerrone's eight-fight win streak.

Dos Anjos likewise made it clear that he wants McGregor, saying he'd fight the featherweight champ in either Brazil or go to his Irish home turf.

One wonders if McGregor took a look at what happened to Cerrone and suddenly decided that featherweight title defense against Frankie Edgar doesn't look so bad after all.

Or maybe he really believes he can take dos Anjos. Or that Diaz would bring bigger dollars than either of them. Who knows? McGregor decision on who he's fighting next is the UFC's biggest question going into 2016. If that wasn't true, the entire card in Orlando wouldn't have been calling him out.

As always, Mystic Mac had the last word, as he tweeted out a response to the callouts.

"Line them up on their knees with their hands out. I want them to beg me," he said.

UFC on FOX 17 quotes

"Conor McGregor said he wants to come to my division, and I think it wouldn't be a smart decision. But if he wants to come, I'd be happy to welcome him." -- dos Anjos on a potential McGregor superfight.

"I do think that a title shot is there. I'm very confident with the team and the people I have around me, that I can pull that off. Let's negotiate and see what happens." -- Alistair Overeem on his potential title shot and impending free agency following his knockout win over Junior dos Santos.

"It sucks. I don't have words for it. The unfortunate part about this job is if you don't show up to work and the other guy does, you end up getting your ass whipped, don't you?" -- Donald Cerrone on his 66-second loss to dos Anjos.

Stock report

Up: Alistair Overeem. What a time to have your best performance in the UFC. Overeem chose to trust himself and fight out the last fight of his contract rather than opt for the security of a new deal, and it paid off with a brutal knockout victory over former heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos. Overeem is in the catbird seat for a fight against the winner of February's Fabricio Werdum-Cain Velasquez heavyweight title fight, and he made it clear in the post-fight press conference that's a bout he wants. But he's also 35 and a veteran of nearly 70 combat sports bouts. If Viacom comes knocking on his door with a boatload of cash, will he be able to say no? Could he get an offer from Japan? All of a sudden, things are looking rosy in The Reem's world.

Down: Junior dos Santos. It's tough watching the really good guys in the business hit their downslide. Dos Santos is one of them. We've seen the warning signs coming for the former UFC heavyweight champion for awhile now. He took two wicked beatings against Velasquez. Last time we saw him, he went five brutal rounds against Stipe Miocic before getting the nod. That's 15 rounds of heavy shots from two of the sport's heaviest hitters. The end result finally seemed to show on Saturday night when his former granite chin gave way late in the second round against Overeem. No doubt dos Santos will continue to soldier on and make decent paychecks as a respected name in a heavyweight division lacking depth. But it's hard to see how he'll ever get back into legitimate title contention.

Up: Nate Diaz. There are few things more electrifying in the mixed martial arts world than when a Diaz brother gets his opponent to fight a vintage Diaz-style encounter, which was exactly what went down in Nate Diaz's fight against Michael Johnson. Diaz jabbed, taunted, stuck, moved, taunted some more, and generally flustered Johnson into fighting a wild fight. Add in the usual Diaz histrionics, and it made for an entertaining Octagon return (while also reminding us, in the process, what absolute load of crap it is that Nick Diaz is banned from fighting). Whether or not Diaz gets the McGregor fight he's looking for, an energetic and productive Nate Diaz is a great thing for the sport.

Interesting calls

A judge I don't recall hearing of before named Barry Luxembourg was the odd dissenting score in the evening's split decisions, giving Danny Castillo his only card against Nik Lentz and Sarah Kaufman's only nod against Valentina Shevchenko. If you look at this guy's history on, this was by far the biggest event the Florida-based judge has ever worked. Let's hope it stays that way.

Other than that, referee Dan Miragliotta may have stopped Overeem's victory of JDS a bit too soon. But if we're being real, in the end, Miragliotta probably just saved dos Santos from absorbing more damage.

Anyway, if that's the worst we can come up with, the final UFC event of the year wasn't a bad one from an officiating perspective, so Happy Holidays to all.

Fight I'd like to see next: Conor McGregor vs. whomever he chooses to fight

Yeah, I know, I should pick one opponent and stick with it. But at least in the immediate aftermath of Saturday night's fights, with a potential McGregor vs. Cerrone bout no longer a realistic option, I feel like I can be persuaded on several potential opponents. From a buildup, trash talk, and stylistic perspective, McGregor vs. Diaz is enough to make even the most jaded MMA reporter's head explode. From the purest sports perspective, if McGregor is serious about wanting to become the first concurrent two weight class champion in UFC history, RDA obviously presents a formidable challenge, and McGregor has certainly never backed down from a challenge. And then, the featherweight title fight with Edgar would be pretty damn big all on its own. Whatever McGregor decides, it will be hard to go wrong.