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Fightweets: On Conor McGregor, Frankie Edgar, Jose Aldo, and interim titles

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Soon enough, the schedule will be back in full swing, and this blip in the calendar without many fights will be a distant memory.

In the meantime, the MMA world, as it tends to, left us plenty to discuss this week, from Jon Jones' latest travails to the official announcement of Nate Diaz vs. Conor McGregor 2 and Frankie Edgar vs. Jose Aldo at UFC 200. And, oh yeah, at the very last minute, word broke that Daniel Cormier has to pull out of his UFC 197 fight with Jones.

On, then, to a new edition of Fightweets.

The interim title

@ynneKrepmatS: What are your thoughts on an interim title fight being on the same night the real champ is also fighting?

My initial reaction to the news that Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar will rematch at UFC 200 with an interim UFC featherweight title at stake are the same as pretty much everyone else: It's a BS title. You know it, I know it, the fighters know it, the UFC knows it.

Interim titles are most legitimate when champions have long-term injuries and have to pull out of a fight, guys working in good faith to return like Dominick Cruz at bantamweight during his myriad injuries a few years back or then-heavyweight champ Frank Mir post-motorcycle crash more than a decade ago. Sometimes the belts simply become a prop to save a show, like when Conor McGregor beat Chad Mendes last summer.

In the latter case, at least, then-featherweight champion Jose Aldo was actually injured. This time, when Edgar meets Aldo for the interim belt in Las Vegas on July 9, it's simply because the champ continues to fight outside the division. The disguise has rarely been so thin.

But still, I can't help but see a silver lining or two in this scenario. The interim belt is a way to check a little bit of Conor's power to call his own shots. Putting a belt on Edgar or Aldo keeps McGregor from picking and choosing his next challenger. It also means, if for some reason McGregor wants a trilogy fight with Diaz or to go to lightweight or whatever other idea pops into his head after the Diaz rematch, the UFC has the power to go ahead strip McGregor of the belt and elevate the interim champ.

Meanwhile, the interim belt had to be an inducement to get Edgar and Aldo to sign on to meet each other at a time when they both felt they had the best case at the title shot. Dana White's broken his fair share of title-shot promises over the years, but it's harder to break that promise when you've already strapped a version of the championship belt around that guy's waist.

All in all, the interim title still seems wrong. But in the bigger picture, it's not without its purposes.

Third time for McGregor and Diaz?

@passionatepatk: What are the chances there is no third fight if Conor wins?

As quick as I am to dismiss the thought they'd go for a Diaz-McGregor trilogy, I mean, the UFC has proven that they're going to chase after the biggest money matchups above everything else. The first fight between McGregor and Diaz was one of the biggest-drawing fights in UFC history. Diaz-McGregor 2 is likely to be every bit as big, if not bigger. As much as some people are rolling their eyes at the rematch, if the second fight is as exciting as the first, do you really think they won't at least consider the trilogy fight, especially considering McGregor's propensity to chase after the biggest paydays?

And hey, if nothing else, if McGregor wins the rematch and there's no trilogy fight, imagine the headlines we'll get from Diaz. Considering how on-fire he's been in the media after winning. Can you imagine what Diaz would say if he lost and got denied a rubber match?

Plan B

@GiglioTrey: Should the UFC implement a scheduled "plan B" type back up fighter for belts in case of injury or Jon Jones stuff

I'm logging on at 10 pm Pacific time Friday night, here. I just hit delete on my previous answer to this question, since in the time since I wrote it, this went from a hypothetical to a reality, as Daniel Cormier is out of his UFC 197 light heavyweight title defense against Jones with an injury.

There's no hint, as of late Friday night, which direction UFC will go with this event. Do you give Anthony "Rumble" Johnson (who is apparently in shape and ready) a call and go with the Jones-Rumble match we were expecting before everything went down in Jones' life last year? Do you hold off and push back DC-Jones, to, oh, I don't know, UFC 200? Which direction we go will depend on how long Cormier will be out and whether Jones simply wants to get back in the cage and fight now or wait on DC.

In the meantime, we appear to be left with Demetrious Johnson vs. Henry Cejudo for the flyweight title in the main event. If it ends up the main event, it will mark the third straight time the Mighty Mouse, when originally scheduled as part of a two-title fight doubleheader. So as far as Plan B goes, DJ may as well be the UFC's official Plan B.

But then, by the time you read this on Saturday, the UFC may have come up with something else entirely. Stay tuned.

Jones' latest trouble

@lennyhaha: Your thoughts on Jon Jones. I've been a staunch supporter thru everything, but lately I don't know...

Is there really much to add based on this week's events that we didn't already know about Jones? We know he's the best pound-for-pound fighter in the sport. That doesn't change based on this week's events in Albuquerque. We know he seems to be locked in a permanent struggle between the way he wishes to be perceived, the way he is perceived and how his actions get in the way of those goals. We know he's been given enough second chances (like one-day rehab stints) to make anyone come to the conclusion they're above it all. We know that the infractions he got cited for in and of themselves aren't serious, and we know Albuquerque has a national reputation for its rogue police contingent.

You'd think, if absolutely nothing else, that Jones would have gotten a driver, or learned how to use Uber, in the wake of everything that went down last year. If there hasn't seemed to be much outrage in reaction to this week's events, maybe it's because we've finally just accepted that Jones is who he is: A supremely gifted athlete who continually makes bad decisions in his personal life, something no amount of opining will change.

Snake-oil salesmen

@hunt5588: Do you think Venator and Frank Merenda will be a flash in the pan or could they have staying power in Europe?

Most likely the former. Vanity projects are nothing new in mixed martial arts (See: Affliction MMA) and neither are promoters who attempt to position themselves as anti-authority, anti-media badasses. Venator has certainly gotten itself attention by signing, and sticking by, Jason Miller and Rousimar Palhares, two fighters with plenty of experience getting online attention who have also never drawn a dime for a promoter in headline positions. Ultimately, this will come down to how much money Merenda is willing to lose in exchange for getting to play internet tough guy.

Undercard women's title fight

@hunt5588: Is Bellator really going to put a women's title fight on their non televised prelims? Like really?

You're referring, of course, to the news that Marloes Coenen vs. Julia Budd at Bellator 155, which will crown the company's first 145-pound women's champion, is being relegated to the undercard. Bellator says it's to draw attention to their online stream, but it's still the wrong call, all the more so because Bellator CEO Scott Coker correctly gets so much credit for his work pushing women's MMA in Strikeforce. A decision like this reeks of the days when women had to fight three-minute rounds.

I mean, really, are we all waiting in breathless anticipation of the main card bout between Chase Gormley and Joey Beltran? The outcry against the women's title fight placement has been strong. There's still nearly two months until the event, meaning Bellator has plenty of time to demonstrate they respond to their fans and do the right thing.

Cyborg title defenses

@AlexanderKLee: Is there any chance the UFC puts a Cris Cyborg Invicta featherweight defense on a UFC card?

If we're learned anything in 2016, it's to never say never. But Cyborg Justino is, far and way, Invicta's biggest star now that so many of the women who made their name in the company fight full-time in the UFC. When Cyborg tops the bill, you go out of your way to watch on Fight Pass. As talented as the rest of the roster is, there's no other singular presence who can command such attention.

So with the UFC understandably not going all in on women's featherweight given the lack of depth; and with Justino unable to realistically get down to bantamweight, an arrangement in which she continues to defend her belt in Invicta and crosses over to the UFC for money catchweight fights seems to be the best path forward.


@lennyhaha: The worst fighter with a good record ever?

I'm not saying Patrick Smith was a bad fighter, but I mean, he claimed a record of 250-0 at UFC 1 ...

(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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