Defending the UFC 200 main and co-main events


Yesterday, the UFC announced Nate Diaz vs. Conor McGregor and Jose Aldo vs. Frankie Edgar would headline and co-headline, respectively, UFC 200. The former, contested at the same welterweight limit as the first fight at UFC 196, was a poorly kept secret; the latter, with an interim featherweight title attached to it, was a bit of a surprise. The bouts top a card that, even with no further additions, stands as a very strong pay-per-view offering.

The reaction to the announcement, at least from the media and hardcore fan base on Twitter, has been less than agreeable. A sample of the complaints: McGregor and Diaz fighting at 170 pounds again is stupid; interim titles are stupid; McGregor is ducking Edgar or Aldo or both; Edgar’s getting the short straw again; Aldo vs. Edgar 2  “feels so unnecessary.” Very few people seem happy with the UFC’s arrangement.

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One thing is lost amid these complaints: These fights fucking rule.

It’s become much more difficult for a single event to stand out given the UFC’s high volume of events. But UFC 196 will go down as one of the most memorable in the Fox-era, if not all-time. Part of that is attributable to Miesha Tate’s come-from-behind submission victory over Holly Holm. Most of it belongs to Conor McGregor and Nick Diaz, their twelve days of trash talk, and the ten minutes of start-to-finish action that ended with the dramatic rear-naked choke finish, handing McGregor his first lost in the UFC. It was a great fight and one that maybe sold 1.5 million PPVs, which explains why the UFC is willing to run it back.

Is there any doubt the second fight will be any less riveting? The first fight wasn’t a case of lightning striking just right. McGregor and Diaz both fight with crowd-pleasing styles as it is, and we just saw how well they mesh with each other. A fight fan’s number one priority is watching great fighters in great fights, and it’s highly unlikely UFC 200’s main event will fail to deliver that.

The same sentiment goes for the rematch between Aldo and Edgar. The couple of instances of Aldo being in something less than a great fight can be chalked up to him taking the his foot of the gas against overmatched competition. Until the McGregor knockout, Edgar arguably put up the stiffest challenge to Aldo’s title reign, and until Aldo’s rematch with Chad Mendes, arguably was involved in the most exciting fight of that reign. Again, there is little reason to expect anything other than an entertaining fight between two of the best fighters in the world.

In addition, Frankie Edgar finally gets the featherweight title fight he’s been pining for. Some my roll their eyes; the interim title isn’t the “real” thing, etc. But let’s game out why this is for an interim title: 1) Aldo and Edgar both probably demanded it to take the fight and 2) perhaps McGregor isn’t long for 145, despite White claiming McGregor will fight the winner of Aldo-Edgar “win, lose, or draw.” Either way, if Edgar wins, he either gets the fight with McGregor or he slides right into the possession of the “real” belt. And if he loses? Well, sorry, Frankie, wrong place, wrong time.

If you’re not sold on the fights now, just wait until the promotional machine starts whirring. We all saw what Diaz and McGregor put together over the course of twelve days. Now imagine a proper buildup over the next four months. And that buildup will be tied together by a compelling story: How does McGregor rebound from his first UFC loss? Losing isn’t new to McGregor, but it is at this level. He’s handled it admirably to this point, but how will he react to Nate reminding him how he tapped like a bitch?

But it won’t be just McGregor and Diaz on the dais. Aldo and Edgar will be right there with them, and it should not surprise anyone if those two end up talking more about the Irishman than about each other. Just imagine the dynamics at play. McGregor will have people coming at him from all fronts, which is not unfamiliar for him; Diaz is really gonna be flexing his Stockton bravado; Aldo wants his vengeance, and Edgar wants to know why the champ has been running for him (whether that’s the case or not). It’s going to be wild.

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