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What’s The UFC’s Next Super Fight?

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Last weekend’s UFC 234 event saw injuries continue to plague the company when Middleweight champion, Robert Whittaker was forced off the card when he suffered a hernia the day before his scheduled bout against Kelvin Gastelum in front of a hometown crowd. This main event was scrapped just a month after the entire UFC 233 presentation was cancelled as a result of several factors, including a shoulder injury that put former bantamweight champion, Dominick Cruz on the shelf.

Whittaker, who currently has a nine-fight win streak, required emergency surgery and there’s no timetable for his return to the octagon. The 28-year-old Australian had a rather difficult road to the championship, considering that despite a well-rounded skill set and the previously mentioned win streak, he more or less continues to be under the radar in terms of star power among many fans. This was mostly because of Georges St. Pierre’s decision to vacate the 185 LBS belt without ever defending it and thus Whittaker was uneventfully promoted from interim champion to the undisputed middleweight champion. Basically, Whittaker never had the chance to have the platform to truly elevate his status as a star within the organization. Perhaps, the main event could’ve been a stage for him, but injuries derailed that possibility.

The card was shuffled and the original co-main event of highly-touted prospect, Israel Adesanya vs. the legendary Anderson Silva was moved to the main event of the card.

The result was somewhat predictable, the dynamic younger athlete that has drawn comparisons to his opponent won via unanimous decision. The 43-year-old Silva showed his age, as his once lightening speed declined somewhat, but his tactful mind kept the fight more competitive than most would’ve guessed prior to the bout. However, there were some very interesting statements made about the potential for a pair of super fights after Anderson discussed his future plans at the post-fight press conference.

The former middleweight kingpin mentioned that he wants a rematch against Nick Diaz at UFC 237 in his home country of Brazil. The pair fought previously in 2015, a contest that Silva initially won via decision, but was overturned to a no contest when he tested positive for PEDs after the fight. Diaz also failed the post-fight test when marijuana was found in his system. Silva was suspended for a year, while Diaz hasn’t returned to the octagon, prompting speculation that his career might be finished. Including Silva’s pair of losses to Chris Weidman in 2013, Silva garnered a record of 1-6-1 since he lost the MW championship. The only win in that span of time was a very controversial decision over Derek Brunson in February 2017. Clearly, he’s toward the latter part of his career, and the Brazilian might consider his native country the place for a proper retirement. Unfortunately, it appears that the horrendous leg injury that he suffered in the second Weidman fight changed the path of his career, as he hasn’t really returned to top form since the injury. Still, he had an incredible career and deserves a featured stage before he hangs up the gloves.

It would be quite the retirement fight for Anderson, who was arguably the most dominant fighter in the history of the sport at the peak of his career. That said, I’d guess that it’s doubtful at best that Nick Diaz agrees to fight again, considering that it was reported that he was actually scheduled to fight at UFC’s pay-per-view card next month, but he didn’t agree to the bout. Maybe another Silva fight for big money will be enough to get Diaz to sign a contract, but again, the odds are that Diaz simply doesn’t compete in the UFC again. However, Anderson claimed at the press conference that he spoke to Diaz about the potential rematch a few months ago, and it was tentatively agreed to if the UFC was willing to sign it so it will be interesting to see if contracts get inked for it.

After Silva made headlines for the possibility of getting one of the Diaz brothers to return to the cage, former UFC Lightweight champion, Conor McGregor tweeted that if the fight happens, he would fight Nick Diaz for a trilogy bout, which continues to be in demand since McGregor avenged a defeat over two years ago. Similar to Nate, the younger Diaz hasn’t fought in an extended period of time and his career might have concluded as well. The controversial brothers are very popular and maintain a cult following despite the lack of main stream exposure with the extended hiatuses in competition. Both Diaz brothers made major cash in their respective bouts the last time they fought in the cage and are known for a rather simplistic lifestyle. It’s very possible that the Diaz siblings are content to continue to teach jiu-jitsu in their hometown of Stockton, CA.

For the UFC, they could definitely use this pair of bouts on the pay-per-view schedule, as outside of the McGregor/Khabib fight, last year saw the numbers down across the board for the UFC on PPV. I will still say that the Fox deal spread the star power too thin, especially with several retirements the past several years. The new ESPN contract gives the organization more coverage and more flexibility so maybe there will be a boost in numbers, but star power is what ultimately does numbers among the general public, which is exactly what this ESPN deal markets towards in terms of the target audience. That said, I’d be very surprised if either of this super fights get signed, especially because Diaz doesn’t appear to be motivated by another major money fight so there’s not a lot of leverage for the company.

What do you think? Comment below with your thoughts, opinions, feedback and anything else that was raised.

Until next week
-Jim LaMotta

E mail drwrestlingallpro@yahoo.com | You can follow me on Twitter @jimlamotta

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