While the biggest story in MMA for the past few weeks has been the return of Conor McGregor and UFC 229, perhaps the most interesting story has been the drama around finding a headliner for the next pay-per-view event, UFC 230. With the fight date closing in and the UFC struggling to find a suitable main event for their return to Madison Square Garden next month, the two biggest fighters already set to compete, Nate Diaz and Dustin Poirier, began campaigning to main event the card with a clash for the inaugural 165 pound title. Ultimately, UFC President Dana White did not co-sign this idea and instead removed Valentina Shevchenko from her scheduled flyweight title fight against Joanna Jedrzejczyk to have her compete for the vacant title against Sijara Eubanks instead. But just because Poirier and Diaz couldn’t make the 165-pound division happen doesn’t mean it’s dead in the water, it just might need someone with a little more sway.
On Wednesday, speaking with Karyn Bryant at the open workouts for UFC 229, Conor McGregor discussed his return to MMA and what his future plans are following his fight with Khabib Nurmagomedov this weekend, and while McGregor didn’t commit to anything in particular, he did say at some point he would need a third fight with Nate Diaz and, since Diaz and Poirier couldn’t make a 165-pound division happen, maybe he and Diaz could.
“The game is full of bums,” McGregor said. “Ain’t s**t changed, really, so it’s good to be back. I’ve got that trilogy with Diaz. I will give that man a rematch. He gave me a rematch, so I’ll give him a rematch. [At] 155 [pounds], I’d imagine, but we’ll see because maybe we could spearhead a 165-pound division. I do believe we should go 145, 155, 165, 175, 185, even 195. Why not? There’s more belts.”
The idea of implementing new weight classes caught fire with fighters over the last few years as many dislike the 15-pound jump between lightweight and welterweight given that the distance between the lower weight classes is only a 10-pound bump. When Poirier and Diaz prematurely announced their opening of the 165-pound division, many fighters in the weight range rejoiced at the opportunity to cut less weight and still feel competitive in the division.
Opening up a 165-pound division would also help with the UFC’s other biggest issue at the moment: finding enough main event worthy fights to headline PPVs. As McGregor goes on to point out, the entire UFC 230 situation came about as a result of the UFC wanting to have a belt on the line to boost interest from the audience, and opening up more weight classes would ease this tension. Plus, McGregor notes, the UFC may be less inclined to strip fighters so cavalierly since they won’t need to manufacture titles for PPVs.
“They’re stripping people left and right,” McGregor said. “They stripped me and I only walked out the damn cage. They didn’t even offer me a fight and I was getting stripped. And then Cormier was injured or something happened to him and I got stripped of my second belt because of that reason just so they can juice up cards with belts. Well hey, stick in more weight divisions, more champions. Why not? If that’s what you’re doing anyway because you just want the belt – look what happened at UFC 230. I think the Diaz-Poirier fight should be main event, personally. It’s great for the women, get them up there but I mean, if it’s the belt that they’re doing this for then why not add more divisions, more belts, more champions, more pay-per-views with belts on the line. It’s gonna help the athletes, I believe, with weight-cutting and things like that. So maybe me and Diaz can do the trilogy at 165.”
Of course, McGregor has to get through UFC 229 first. This weekend, McGregor faces arguably the toughest test of his career, undefeated lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov. The last times fans saw him compete he was getting TKOd by Floyd Mayweather Jr. in a boxing match and come Saturday, it will be nearly two years since McGregor has stepped into the cage. And while many fighters would be concerned with ring rust after that absence, McGregor says it will be a nice homecoming back to where he belongs after his foray into boxing.
“It’s like going to work and leaving your toolbox at home so it’s good for me now to take all of my tools back in to work with me,” McGregor said. “I’m looking forward to unleashing them and reminding people of the weapons I possess.”
Results. The Ultimate Fighter 28, Episode 6 results: Bea Malecki vs. Leah Letson.
Mystic. Conor McGregor predicts ‘devastating KO’ of Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229.
Records. Audie Attar, Conor McGregor’s agent, talks ‘record-breaking’ deal for UFC 229.
Mismatch. Anderson Silva: ‘It would be an honor’ to fight Conor McGregor.
185 pounds. Darren Till announces move up to middleweight.
Ruthless. ‘Shocked’ Joanna Jedrzejczyk says UFC ‘ignored’ signed contract for Valentina Shevchenko fight.
The A Side.
Fight week diary, day 1.
For those fans of The Office.
Conor on Conan.
DC saying his final 205 fight will be against Jones.
Heavy Hands. Breaking down The Big One.
Eurobash. Discussing the biggest event in MMA history.
This is good interneting.
Damn straight I am pissed cornball. I can’t wait for the day to break you physically and mentally . You had agreement with me and you got out over some bullshit this time . I’ll put a beating on you that your gonna question your self worth in life . https://t.co/zxI5e4DT94
— Jessica Eye (@jessicaevileye) October 3, 2018
I think this is how many feel. Khabib should win but damn if Conor doesn’t feel like he’s just got that magic.
I tell you what, I have @TeamKhabib in this fight because it is the safer bet that he will get the takedowns. But after just seeing @TheNotoriousMMA interview with @KarynBryant it might have me questioning it. Seemed so chill and at ease with the moment.
— Alan Jouban (@AlanJouban) October 4, 2018
Mike Perry got a tattoo of the movie 300, because of course he did.
Tommy Toe Hold.
Ariane Lipski (11-3) vs. Maryna Moroz (8-3); UFC Buenos Aires, Nov. 17.
2001: The WEC held its second event, WEC 2: Clash of the Titans, featuring a main event between Gan McGee and Ron Faircloth. Yeah, the WEC went a long way.
2014: The UFC held two Fight Night events on the same day, UFC Fight Night 53 and UFC Fight Night 54. At UFC Fight Night 53, Rick Story won a split decision over Gunnar Nelson and at UFC Fight Night 54, Rory MacDonald TKOd Tared Saffiedine in the third round.
Now we know why Dana was so against 165, he wants to open it up with Conor. Get that money.
Anyway, thanks for reading and see y’all tomorrow!
Who wins the battle of the Anthonys this weekend?
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