We're only a few days into 2016 and there is already an early leader for most stacked card of the year.
Conor McGregor will move up to lightweight and challenge for the title against Rafael dos Anjos in the main event of UFC 197 on March 5 in Las Vegas, sources confirmed with MMA Fighting. In the targeted co-main event, Holly Holm will make her first women's bantamweight title defense against Miesha Tate.
Lance, a Brazilian outlet, was the first to report the dos Anjos vs. McGregor matchup. Bleacher Report's Jeremy Botter was the first to have the Holm vs. Tate news. The UFC has not announced either fight. A message sent to UFC officials was not immediately returned Thursday night.
McGregor (19-2) won the UFC featherweight title from Jose Aldo via 13-second knockout at UFC 194 last month. Afterward, he stated his desire to be a two-division champion. McGregor, 27, emerged in 2015 as the biggest pay-per-view draw in the UFC with knockouts of Dennis Siver, Chad Mendes and Aldo.
Dos Anjos (25-7) has won the McGregor lottery, over the likes of Frankie Edgar and Nate Diaz. The UFC lightweight champ took the belt from Anthony Pettis at UFC 185 in March 2015 and defended it successfully via first-round TKO against Donald Cerrone at UFC on FOX 17 in December. Dos Anjos, 31, is an incredible story of perseverance, a former journeyman fighter who took his game to a new level at Kings MMA in Orange County, Calif.
B.J. Penn and Randy Couture both won UFC titles in two different weight classes. No one in UFC history, though, has ever held two belts at the same time. McGregor would be the first if he defeats dos Anjos. Penn fought Georges St-Pierre for the UFC welterweight title when he was the lightweight champion in 2009, but lost.
Holm (10-0) shocked the world at UFC 193 in November when she knocked out Ronda Rousey with a head kick to win the women's 135-pound title. The former three-division boxing champ won all of her three UFC fights in 2015. The ever-popular Tate (17-5) has won four straight and is a perennial contender. Holm wanted to fight before a Rousey rematch and got her wish.
UFC 197 was originally supposed to be in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, but the decision to move it came last month. It will now be held in Las Vegas, the home for the vast majority of the UFC's big fights.