By Adam Martin
As most of you know by now, UFC Featherweight Champion Conor McGregor was recently lifted from his welterweight superfight rematch against Nate Diaz at UFC 200 after UFC President Dana White said McGregor failed to live up to his promotional responsibilities. According to White, McGregor wouldn't fly to the West Coast of the U.S. to film promotional materials for the event nor participate in a press conference, with the 145-pound champ instead insisting he stay put in Iceland, where he is currently training.
White didn't like that answer, and with the UFC not wanting its biggest star to become bigger than the promotion, McGregor was removed from the card. It's disappointing to the fans, who were looking forward to seeing McGregor fight on what is essentially the biggest event of the year, but one can understand the UFC's position on the matter, as ultimately McGregor failed to live up to his contract in a likely attempt to get more money from the UFC.
The thing some are forgetting, though, is that it isn't just McGregor that is off the card, but Diaz as well. While the UFC has stated it intends to keep Diaz on the card, he does not currently have an opponent booked. And if the UFC and "Notorious" cannot come to an agreement, then the UFC should do its best to find Diaz an opponent for the card, either at welterweight or at lightweight.
The opponent outside of McGregor that made the most sense was Khabib Nurmagomedov, but "The Eagle" has already said publicly he will not fight at UFC 200 since it occurs at the same time as Ramadan. Diaz vs. Nurmagomedov would have made all the sense in the world as a #1 contender's fight at lightweight, so it's unfortunate it won't happen in July, but perhaps sometime down the road we will eventually see that fight.
Another lightweight opponent who makes sense is Tony Ferguson. Both Diaz and Ferguson have incredibly well-rounded games and a matchup between them is mouth-watering. Ferguson is returning from an injury, but he says he will be ready by then, and if he is, this matchup would be amazing. If the UFC added Diaz vs. Ferguson along with a main event of Jon Jones vs. Daniel Cormier 2, UFC 200 would probably be the best card on paper of all time.
Robbie Lawler for the belt makes sense. It's unclear if Lawler will be ready to fight again in July, but if he is, and if Diaz is okay with staying at welterweight, then this would be the perfect main event for the card, even if Jones vs. DC 2 isn't also put on it.
Regardless of who he fights, the UFC should do their best to keep Diaz on the card. He has earned another big payday after what he and McGregor did for the company at UFC 197, and
even if McGregor is at odds with the UFC right now, Diaz isn't. Keep Diaz in the card, pick one of the above options, and the UFC will reap the benefits at the box office.
UFC 200: Tate vs. Nunes (formerly UFC 200: Cormier vs. Jones 2, UFC 200: Lesnar vs. Hunt) takes place on July 9, 2016 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.