The year of the rematch. That’s effectively what 2016 has become.
Chris Weidman will get a second bite at middleweight champion Luke Rockhold, Jon Jones is to renew his rivalry with Daniel Cormier, Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Claudia Gadelha re-run their 2014 clash, Dominick Cruz will complete a trilogy with Urijah Faber, and lets not forget, we were supposed to have a Fabricio Werdum and Cain Velasquez sequel, too.
Now, Conor McGregor, according to various reports, is close to an immediate replay with Nate Diaz at UFC 200. But of all the bouts mentioned above, this one makes the least sense. Yes, there are more rematches than normal but that has everything to do with the volatile championship landscape. We’ve had two belts change hands in 2016 – Cruz after his win over , and Miesha Tate after choking out Holly Holm.
From March of last year through to now, there have been an unprecedented nine title changes. In other words, the currently scheduled fights make sense for one reason or another – except McGregor/Diaz 2.
There is, however, one reason for the UFC to run it back – money. The numbers are not even confirmed yet but UFC 196 is expected to break practically every modern-era record for the promotion.
UFC president Dana White hinted pay-per-view figures were north of 1.5million (making it second only to the landmark century card) while digital impressions were astronomical and even A-list stars voiced their shock at McGregor’s defeat.
The UFC entered the mainstream consciousness and though the rematch isn’t the best fight for either man it is the best selling.
And this is the biggest criticism of the rematch. No one really benefits, especially Diaz. Yes, the Californian will get paid big, again, but why should he have to fight the Irish star so soon?
His victory was divisive, McGregor was mentally and physically beaten and a second round submission, after just 11 days notice, of the UFC’s biggest cashcow should earn him some degree of power over his next move. Diaz was unequivocal about who he wants next: Rafael dos Anjos for the lightweight title.
Give it to him because it makes sense for two reasons. One, it allows McGregor to defend his featherweight strap and keep the 145lbs division moving along. Secondly, it means the UFC can give some push to the birth of a second star.
That’s not to say a rematch should never happen but at least revisit it under re-freshened circumstances because doing it now is simply shortsighted.