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Fightweets: Should Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz rematch?

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A week has passed since UFC 196, but not only are the ramifications from the monumental event still dominating the conversation, they will probably continued to be discussed for weeks and months down the road. So without further ado, let's get right into it.

Diaz-McGregor 2?

@KevinMuehleisen (and several others asking similar questions): All of these fighters are getting immediate rematches. Why is no one considering McGregor-Diaz 2? Could be huge $

In the wake of UFC 196, I got asked about every possible permutation of which fights should be made at women's bantamweight and everywhere from featherweight to welterweight on the men's side, most of which I'll get to in the course of this column.

But I was surprised, at least at first glance, at how many people seem to want McGregor-Diaz 2, given all the other possibilities out there.

On one level, it shouldn't be too surprising. UFC 196's main event was a sensational fight, with McGregor going full bore after the knockout and landing left hand after left hand until half of Diaz's face looked like raw hamburger; then Diaz rebounding in the most Diaz-y fashion imaginable and winning the fight via submission. It was a modern-day adaptation of Nick Diaz's PRIDE win over Takanori Gomi in the same city.

In an era in which the UFC seems to be handing out rematches like Halloween candy, a rematch between the two sounds awfully tempting.

But there are too many compelling reasons not to go to back to that fight right away. The primary one being McGregor's featherweight championship. The division already got put on hold so McGregor could move up. Fighters the caliber of Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar can't wait forever. Had McGregor continued to pursue a weight class above 145, the UFC would have had ground to strip him of the featherweight belt. They need to get that conveyor belt restarted.

Diaz can be matched with several opponents for a huge-money fight at this point. A rematch with lightweight champ Rafael dos Anjos would sell. A fight with welterweight champ Robbie Lawler has been discussed.

McGregor and Diaz don't need each other right now. Maybe they'll meet again. Maybe at 155 instead of 170.  If McGregor and Diaz both win their next fights, you might have the right timing for a monster rematch. If either or both lose steam, its a fight you could go to a couple years down the road to try to kickstart their momentum. But it's a rematch to put in the back pocket for now.

Are UFC 196 results the end of the world as we know it?

@nikcastro2: Is UFC resilient enough to hit good ppv#'s/$ still w/ losses to 2 rising stars? Or is another slump ahead?

Nik, I don't know for sure that you've been reading the mainstream sports columnists who swooped in on UFC 196 and came to simpleton conclusions that top stars losing fights will ruin the UFC (I'm not going to do them the favor of linking their work), but on the chance you have, don't drink the Kool-Aid.

The UFC has become as popular as it has -- there's no denying at this point that the UFC is now in the middle of its second major boom of the Zuffa era -- in large part because they've gone the opposite route of boxing, in not artificially building fighters to the degree the senior combat sport does, and instead letting their cash cows take on the biggest challenges.

It seems the only people who believe McGregor and Holly Holm's losses will send the UFC back into a tailspin are the sort of people who aren't paying close attention, got assigned to cover UFC 196 by their editors because it was going to click big, and fell back on what they know from boxing.

But the MMA audience knows better. Check out comedian Bill Burr's take on UFC 196. He hosted a viewing party at his place and gushed about how the show was money well spent. That jibes with the opinion of every casual fan I've heard from since last weekend. Most fans understand that McGregor is a champion who not only went up in weight class, but accepted a substitute opponent to save the show. Then McGregor and Diaz put on one hell of a compelling fight before Diaz won. He showed up to the press conference after the fight and manned up and owned his loss.

What, other than looking for cheap hot-take clickbait, is there to hate about that?

Losses happen in sports. No one thought the six-loss New York Giants weren't the real Super Bowl champions when they upset the undefeated New England Patriots nearly a decade ago; and certainly no one stopped watching the Patriots in the following years because they lost that game. McGregor and Ronda Rousey's respective next fights will do monster business after losses. If Conor and Ronda go on prolonged losing streaks? Sure, they'll lose their luster. But the idea either will be killed off by a single loss is lazy thinking from people whose thoughts on combat sports stopped evolving decades ago.

Pouting Dana

@MitchellTonight: What do you make of Dana White's disgust and metaphorical cleaning of the hands after putting the belt on Tate at 196?

@pinheiroandre: What was Dana's angle in attacking GSP while defending Conor for taking fights in other weight classes?

Let's lump these two questions into the same category. For those who missed it, coming out of the extraordinarily successful UFC 196, UFC president Dana White used McGregor's willingness to fight at 170 to take a swipe at Georges St-Pierre for never going doing the Anderson Silva superfight; and he ripped into Holm's manager, Lenny Fresquez, for letting Holm take the Tate fight instead of holding out on a Rousey rematch, which would have shattered all UFC business records.

As Jordan Breen pointed out in a well-argued screed on Sherdog, White seemed a bit too married to the idea of Rousey and McGregor as unstoppable machines. So he seems to be lashing out because of it, rather than emphasize the positives that came out of UFC 196: 1. Tate-Rousey 3 will be a monster fight, and there are now multiple huge fights to make atop the women's bantamweight division instead of one (Holm-Rousey 2); and 2. Nate Diaz had a breakthrough performance that makes him a legit headliner on his own, while McGregor barely loses any steam after fighting up in class, accepting a late substitute to save the main event, and handling his loss like a true pro.

It's worth remembering the UFC's new boom period coincided with White fading into the background. During the period of roughly 2011-14 or so when the business was in a lull, White ripping into one of his fighters seemed to make headlines more often than the promotion of the actual fights and the stars. White has made himself less available on a day-to-day basis over the past couple years, and personalities like Rousey and McGregor shone through. Granted, the Rousey/McGregor combo had the charisma to break through either way. But White's outburst this week, when he could have been spending that time pushing the long-term good which came out of the show, was an unwelcome throwback.

Buster Holm

@jason_lives13: Why Holm thinks she deserves a rematch? 4 fights UFC? A lot girls on UFC has more than that. James Buster Douglas also lost.

Wow. Holly enters the UFC undefeated. She wins her first two fights. She destroys Rousey to win the bantamweight championship. She essentially leads for about 19 out of 23 minutes in her first title defense, makes a mistake late, and loses to Tate. And now she's Buster Douglas? Tough crowd.

It's clear at this point you can match up any combination of Rousey vs. Tate, Rousey vs. Holm, or Holm vs. Tate, have it headline a show on its own, without pairing it with another major fight, and do a killer buy rate. Tate-Rousey 3 seems the direction the UFC wants to go in, but Holm is, at worst, one fight away from another title shot, and could conceivably step in should either Tate or Rousey have to withdraw whenever it is they end up scheduled to fight. Buster Douglas, she's not.

What about T-Wood?

@DarrylNeary: Nate Diaz is being touted for a title shot against Robbie Lawler. Am I the only one that cares about @TWoodley's feelings?

Tyron Woodley's done nothing wrong. He's a good, straightforward dude in a sport with too many flakes. He's done everything by the book. It wasn't his fault Johny Hendricks had to withdraw the day before their UFC 192 fight.

But life's rarely fair, and while Woodley seemed the next in line for a shot at Lawler's welterweight title back in October, the division has shifted wildly. Carlos Condit put on a breathtaking performance in coming a whisker away from lifting Lawler's welterweight title; Stephen Thompson put on a killer show in finishing Hendricks; and now Nate Diaz, of all people, is being considered for a welterweight shot, one with the built-in angle of Lawler seeking a bit of revenge for his KO loss to Nick Diaz years ago.

The longer Woodley's out, the less the public clamors for him. Woodley would be best served accepting a fight at this point, whether or not it's for a title, and reminding people why he deserved the title shot in the first place.

Kimbo and Shamrock pop

@MichaelDavSmith: Dave, longtime reader, first time tweeter. What is your opinion of the Bellator test failures?

Always a pleasure having a former staffer check in, Mike. Friday's news that Kimbo Slice and Ken Shamrock both failed Bellator 149 postfight tests might have been the least surprising news we've heard in awhile.

But we also have to cool our jets a bit on passing judgment. Texas did not release what, exactly, the two fighters popped for.

Texas has a ridiculously low threshold for marijuana metabolites. Jessica Eye, for example, was dinged for a level that wouldn't have qualified for a suspension in Nevada or California.

If it turns out either fighter popped for PEDs -- and Shamrock has already been dinged on that count in his career -- then, yeah, that looks pretty bad. If Slice tested positive for PEDs in a fight in which Dada5000 nearly died, that makes for bad headlines, even if it isn't Slice's fault Dada showed up brutally out of shape.

If it turns out to be a chintzy Texas weed suspension? Whole different ballgame.

All of this has the potentially to make Bellator look terrible, show. But until we know for sure, though, there's no point casting stones.


@millsbass47: Well? I've been waiting all week to see Nate Diaz on the cringe circuit (talk shows) for his win at UFC 196. Will it happen?

He's done a few spots, and been pretty entertaining. But in terms of doing a Holm-like media blitz ... umm, you saw Nate walk out on a CNBC interview last week, right? Word gets around the TV and radio business about those sort of things. The clips of his bleeped-out FOX interview calling out Conor last December made the rounds, too.

Besides, the Diaz mystique is that they show up, fight whoever is placed in front of them, kick some ass, then go home to the 209 and pretty much vanish til it's time to fight again. It's gotten them this far, so why mess with a winning formula?

(I've finally gotten around to creating a professional Facebook page. If you've been a loyal Fightweets reader over the years, do me a favor and like the page to help me get it up and running. Thanks!)

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