Of all the story lines to emerge from the aftermath of UFC 196, the unlikeliest is perhaps an immediate rematch between Connor McGregor and Nate Diaz. Here are four reasons against a rematch.
1. McGregor must defend his 145 pound belt
It’s fine for McGregor to have other aspirations outside the Bantamweight division, even other belts and titles. However, the last Featherweight title bout was in December 2015, which was of course McGregor’s own stunning and devastating 13 second KO of defending champ Jose Aldo. If McGregor fights at UFC 200 slated for July, it’s probable that he won’t be available for a title fight until December again. 12 months between title fights is far too long for a division unless a serious lack of talent exists. But clear options are in play for McGregor to chose from. He cannot hold the division hostage, especially when he has yet to even successfully defend his title, which is a vital aspect to being a true champion.
2. A rematch does not advance either fighter’s career
While this fight was amazing the first time around, especially for Diaz who gained some much needed attention for his fighting skills, a rematch would not improve either fighters career in terms of future title chances. McGregor skipped over the whole lightweight division to originally fight Dos Anjos before Diaz stepped in when the former broke his foot in training. So if McGregor defeats Diaz at 155 pounds, is the Irishman now settled on working through top contenders to get to Dos Anjos and fight for the title? Or does he just skip straight to another title fight with Dos Anjos? And since he’ll need to defend his 145 title, he would be juggling fights between weight classes to pursue both goals.
If Diaz wins, the situation isn’t much clearer. His excellent victory against an emerging contender Michael Johnson at UFC Fight Night in December 2015 showcased an improved and much more dangerous Diaz, putting him back into contention for a potential title shot. Defeating an opponent that is fighting out of normal weight class (even twice) won’t edge him closer to a title shot than he already is now. McGregor hasn’t fought a single lightweight before (a Diaz rematch at lightweight would be his first), so a win for Diaz might just prove that McGregor should stick to 145, not that Diaz deserves a title chance.
3. Diaz with a full camp makes a rematch a puzzling decision at best
Diaz stepped into the Octagon and defeated a much hyped opponent on ten days notice. Ten days. The fact that Diaz was training for a triathlon makes for a good soundbyte to justify allowing the fight, but that level of training doesn’t compensate in the slightest for a full fight camp. Ten days full of the circus of pressers and pre-fight conferences. Ten days of helter-skelter training at best. And yet Diaz walked in, took McGregor’s best punch(es), and landed a punishing left that eventually drove McGregor to go for a takedown, before performing a jiu-jitsu masterclass and sinking into a tight rear naked choke that saw McGregor quickly tap. All on ten days.
Imagine Diaz with a full camp. McGregor also gained much needed experience and would fight any opponent much smarter now than he did with Diaz the first time. But Diaz with a full camp is a frightening prospect. He probably wouldn’t be “flawless” like he predicted he would be with a full camp, but he wouldn’t be far from it.
4. Frankie Edgar deserves a title shot
The Answer has rightly been calling for a chance at the title for some time, and Dana White and the UFC simply must give him an opportunity. Now is the time for that title fight. Edgar has won the necessary fights to prove himself worthy. Edgar’s wrestling ability makes him a dangerous opponent for McGregor, similar to Chad Mendes. But unlike Mendes, Edgar would have a full camp. McGregor vs. Edgar is an easy headlining event at UFC 200.