If current rumors are to be believed, Conor McGregor is slated to take on Nate Diaz in a highly anticipated main event rematch at UFC 200 in July. The immensely popular and vocal McGregor is looking to exact revenge on Diaz after the controversial brawler from Stockton, California choked out the Irish Featherweight Champion at UFC 196 earlier in March.
The matchup is sure to draw a ton of pay per view buys at what the UFC will hype up as one of the biggest cards of all-time. But no matter how many people want to see this fight and no matter how strongly McGregor is looking to avenge his loss Diaz, a rematch between the two at UFC 200 would absolutely be the wrong choice for the UFC to make. More so, if the fight ends up taking place, McGregor should be stripped of his championship belt.
Conor McGregor is the current UFC Featherweight Champion; but this fight would make two consecutive bouts outside of 145 pounds. It’s not as if he has cleared out the featherweight division and is seeking a challenge at a higher weight class – Frankie Edgar has been mounting a Twitter campaign to fight for the title even going back to UFC 196. Jose Aldo still hasn’t gotten his rematch for the title he lost so quickly to McGregor back in December. There are multiple qualified contenders for McGregor’s belt, and a second straight fight outside of that weight class should force Dana White to strip McGregor of that belt to allow the Featherweight division to have a fighting champion.
Looking for parallels, one could only turn to Anderson Silva, who fought twice at Light Heavyweight despite being the Middleweight Champion at the time. These scenarios are vastly different, however. Silva’s fights outside of his weight class came sandwiched around a title defense in the division where Silva was champion. And unlike McGregor, Silva had systematically cleaned out the Middleweight division at that point in his title reign and was clearly the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, so a fight at a higher weight class was more warranted.
McGregor’s ventures outside of Featherweight seem to come more from his trash talking than anything. Keep in mind, the fight with Diaz was originally supposed to be a Lightweight title fight against champion Rafael dos Anjos and only changed when dos Anjos was forced from the bout due to a foot/ankle injury. McGregor, never willing to back down from a fight, offered to move up not one, but two weight classes to fight Diaz at Welterweight on short notice, only to be choked out by the larger man.
According to the most recent reports, the rumored rematch would again take place at the 170 pound Welterweight division despite the fact that Diaz would prefer the fight to be at the 155 pound Lightweight division so there would be “no excuses this time” (according to Diaz). While an immediate rematch doesn’t make sense in general, it would at least make more sense at Lightweight, so at the very least the winner could face dos Anjos, the man McGregor was originally supposed to fight, for the Lightweight Championship.
Regardless of what weight class this rematch would take place at, it would be in the UFC’s best interest to strip McGregor of his belt to free up the Featherweight division for fighters who actually want to fight at 145 pounds. It would not be a popular decision, but it would speak volumes towards protecting the integrity of the company’s weight classes if the champion was actually active in his own division. Even if the UFC is unwilling to strip the title off of its most popular fighter, they could at least hold an interim Featherweight Championship bout between Aldo and Edgar if McGregor is so intent on fighting yet again outside of his weight class.
Better yet, Dana White should be convincing McGregor to defend his belt at UFC 200 instead of risking hurting his star power even more by potentially losing yet again to a larger man. Fight either Aldo or Edgar, and regardless of whether he wins that fight or not, he can then fight Diaz at a later date. The UFC deserves a fighting champion at Featherweight, whether or not it is Conor McGregor.