So Conor McGregor has decided to do his best CM Punk impression and “retire” early. He then retracted his retirement announcement after Dana White said he’s being pulled from UFC 200, and it’s clearer now more than ever that there’s a rift between the two. But who suffers? NOBODY, except White and McGregor. If they can’t work it out, that’s on them and their legacies.
What we need to focus on is WHAT HAPPENS NOW?
How can we save UFC 200? Here’s how: below are some dream matches to main event UFC 200, and yes, no list of main events would be complete without a few WWE references, so batten down the hatches, and let’s jump off the cell together:
5. Dana White vs. Nate Diaz at a catchweight of 205
Call me crazy, but Dana White is still the biggest star in the UFC. Haven’t you heard Joe Rogan say that a gazillion times at every UFC weigh-in? Without White, none of this is possible. So what’s the next logical step? White needs to take off that tight T-shirt and step into the cage. “If Conor McGregor isn’t man enough to fight Nate Diaz, I am,” White would say. Think of the promos, the videos, the interviews. This fight would be better than the original plan. What’s the worst that could happen? Diaz taps White out with a rear naked choke? Yeah, we have already seen that, big deal. Diaz sloppy boxes White for three rounds before White quits on his stool? Or maybe, just maybe, White pulls out some Gerry Cooney muscle, lands a left hook from hell and pulls off the upset of the decade. White stepping into the cage would finally shut up all the haters. They’d have no choice but to respect him. And, on the bright side, Diaz would probably wreck White so bad that we wouldn’t have to hear his hyperbole for at least six months. Book it.
4. CM Punk vs. Nate Diaz
So, we all know that Punk isn’t going to last very long inside the cage with Mickey Gall. It’s not Punk’s fault. It’s just hard to become an MMA fighter at 38 years old, even if you are a legitimate tough guy and one of the greatest professional wrestlers of all time. Brock Lesnar was a freak of nature and he lost three times in eight fights. Punk will be no lesser of a man if he gets his parts rearranged in the cage. So if you have one of the biggest draws in sports entertainment at your disposal, why not throw him in there with the sharks and see him get eaten alive by someone who actually would benefit from the paycheck. Diaz deserves every dollar and more coming to him. He shut up Conor McGregor and literally sent him into (brief) retirement. Diaz is the new gatekeeper of all sh$t talkers. Let Diaz toy with Punk for two rounds and then put him to sleep. This way, according to Conor McGregor logic, Punk is a man for “stepping up” and fighting Diaz, and Diaz is the man for retiring two fighters in back-to-back fights. And if you thought McGregor was good on the microphone, wait, just wait, until CM Punk finds his smile and decides to actually drop a few Pipe Bombs. We’ll have a new best talker in the business. One and done. That’s all we need.
3. Jon Jones vs. Officer Jason Brown
Let’s go out on a limb here and assume that Jon Jones destroys Ovince St. Preux in like, I don’t know, two minutes, at UFC 197. Let’s assume that St. Preux, a strong college wrestler, isn’t as good as Olympian Daniel Cormier, and we saw how that turned out. Jones treated Cormier like he was a sack of potatoes, throwing him around the cage. Imagine what he will do to St. Preux. Maybe, just maybe, we’ll see a stunning upset, but I’d bet that Ronda Rousey is the UFC bantamweight champion of the world in 2016 before I would take OSP in this fight. So that opens the door to Jones vs. Brown, the cop who rapped with Jones like he was Eminem at at 1990s hip hop slam. This cop is a born talker and, clearly, he hates Jon Jones. Cop vs. Fighter. Arrestee vs. The Arrested. The Law vs. The Lawless. There are so many marketing opportunities. There’s probably not a guy on the planet who Jones would love to wipe the mat with more than Brown (nope, not even Daniel Cormier tops Jones’ most hated list). Hey, Jones would elbow this guy one time and the cop could probably enjoy an early retirement too. Or maybe, just maybe, Brown is as good of a fighter as he is a talker, and we have finally found the perfect foil to the greatest UFC fighter of all time.
2. Robbie Lawler vs. Nate Diaz
OK, let’s be a “real MMA journalist” now. Lawler’s got no opponent. Diaz is always ready to go. Diaz deserves some kind of payback for his shocking victory over McGregor. Robbie Lawler apparently sold his soul to the devil and has been blessed with the fountain of youth, mat skills, and an even stronger left hand that ever. All of his fights are exciting and he tends to kick people’s asses. Lawler vs. Diaz is just, you know, a plain old good fight between talented fighters, so it doesn’t have the pop of some of the other gimmick matches. Still, there are a lot of MMA fans who want to see good fights these days, and who are not impressed with guys like Ken Shamrock and Dada 5000. An odd bunch they are.
1. Fabricio Werdum vs. The Last Emperor
Seriously, this is a no brainer. Fedor Emelianenko, the greatest MMA fighter of all time, finally gets his UFC moment against the first man to beat him in a decade. And we’re not talking in the sprawling landscape of picturesque San Jose, Calif. in Strikeforce. We’re talking about on the national stage, in Las Vegas, for the UFC. Fedor has an aura unlike any other fighter in the world. He’s special, kind of like Joe Montana. It doesn’t matter that Montana ended his career with the Kansas City Chiefs. He’s still remembered as the best (thank you, Jerry Rice). Same with Fedor. Unless you have posters of Dana White on your bedroom wall, you have to believe that Fedor is one of, if not the best of all time. White, of course, has dumped on him for a decade because he could never sign him to the UFC, largely because Fedor’s management team, who were probably more concerned about Fedor’s pocketbook than his legacy as a fighting champion. But that’s all under the bridge downtown now. Fedor Emelianenko vs. Fabricio Werdum. Revenge. Fedor will knock Werdum back to the SAP Center in San Jose, win the UFC title and finally have his Wrestlemania/UFC/Strikeforce/Elite EC/Affliction/CBS Sports moment. Book it.