UFC president Dana White was sitting front and center when Nate Diaz shocked the MMA world by submitting Conor McGregor at UFC 196. Along with former UFC bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey, the promotion’s two biggest cash cows have now fallen in the past four months.
Rousey’s future appears to be set with a trilogy against freshly-minted champ Miesha Tate targeted for this winter. That’s an easy decision for the UFC since Rousey has already taken Tate’s left arm hostage on two previous occasions, so that bet is hedged.
However, who’s next for McGregor? Two straight losses for the “Notorious” one would be a devastating blow to the monster that the UFC’s marketing machine has invested millions of dollars in.
McGregor stated at Saturday’s UFC 196 post-fight press conference that he’ll defend his featherweight title in his next outing. The two leading candidates to score the nod are former title holder Jose Aldo, who McGregor waxed in just 13 seconds in December to unify the belt, or fresh blood in Frankie Edgar.
White said he’s currently undecided on who gets first dibs at McGregor’s gold, but arranging a rematch with Aldo would be in McGregor and the UFC’s best interests.
As just mentioned, Edgar presents a new challenge. There’s an unknown there because they’ve never fought. There would be significant risk, and we’ve yet to even discussed the matchup nightmare Edgar has been for previous opponents given his speed and footwork.
Edgar possesses a strong wrestling background, something we know isn’t McGregor’s strong suit. Edgar’s also accustomed to beating bigger fighters. Let’s not forget, “The Answer” had all the answers to dominate a bigger BJ Penn for the UFC lightweight title, then solidified his status in an immediate rematch. He proceeded to knock out a massive Gray Maynard to retain his title.
Edgar subsequently lost his lightweight crown to a much heavier Benson Henderson in a controversial decision that many believed Edgar won.
With Aldo, on the other hand, not only would it be a more lucrative fight for the UFC, but it wouldn’t be as risky since we’ve already seen it once before. Sure, McGregor most likely won’t render Aldo unconscious on the canvas in just 13 seconds again, but at least he’ll enter the cage with the confidence that he can. Don’t think that won’t be in Aldo’s head, either.
Stylistically, Aldo is also a much better matchup for McGregor as opposed to an Edgar, who Mystic Mac will have to try and chase down given his nonstop movement.
Even before losing to Diaz, McGregor had his sights set on returning on July 9’s historic UFC 200 extravaganza. If the UFC wants to go box office, Aldo is the clear cut choice. It will draw a much bigger pay-per-view number, and while future UFC Hall of Famer Aldo is far from a gimme, it is a safer pairing of the two for McGregor, so it’s a win-win for the UFC.
Sorry, Frankie. At the same time, Aldo has a propensity for pulling out of fights, so Edgar is a solid 1a.