Opinion: How Conor McGregor vs. the UFC Became a Win-Win

By Andreas Hale Apr 29, 2016

Editor’s note: The views and opinions expressed below are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Sherdog.com, its affiliates and sponsors or its parent company, Evolve Media.

For better or worse, this UFC 200 debacle involving Conor McGregor and the Ultimate Fighting Championship has gone from public-relations disaster to a massive coup for the MMA promotion. Although there are fans who are disgruntled with the fact that everybody’s favorite Irish fighter will no longer compete at the UFC’s biggest event, somehow this has managed to become an immensely profitable situation.

Yes, UFC 200 was dealt a blow when McGregor decided that being a globetrotting trash talker wasn’t a necessity; and now that Nate Diaz is likely following him out the door and into a vacation -- only those close to the Stockton, California, fighter have a clue what a Diaz Brothers Family Vacation would look like -- the UFC actually finds itself in a great position.

The reason why: McGregor hasn’t retired and Diaz only wants to fight McGregor. You know what that means? That means they’ll headline another card, perhaps this summer, and do a significant amount of pay-per-view buys.

I’m sure the panic button was originally slammed with the ferocity of some Derrick Lewis ground-and-pound when the McGregor situation was playing out for the public in real time. However, it only takes a moment of reflection to realize that as long as McGregor is still interested in fighting, the UFC wins.

As for the fans? Whoever is complaining about the UFC 200 lineup clearly is jaded and needs to stop watching MMA. Sure, the card would have been significantly more appealing with both McGregor and Ronda Rousey featured, but let’s be honest, this thing is pretty stacked. Whatever fights make it to the Fox Sports 1 prelims will be better than some of the main-card bouts we’ve seen for some recent pay-per-views; and with UFC President Dana White making room for one more fight -- you have to believe it has something to do with either Georges St. Pierre or Robbie Lawler -- this could be the most stacked card in the history of the company. There are a total of seven current (Jon Jones, Miesha Tate and Daniel Cormier) or former (Jose Aldo, Frankie Edgar, Cain Velasquez and Johny Hendricks) UFC champions already on the card. That’s pretty loaded.

UFC 200 was always going to do numbers because it’s still an “event.” People are going to buy it just because of its nice, neat even number, because, you know, people love numbers. McGregor would have added to it, but this is still going to do over a million PPV buys; and once you slap Diaz-McGregor 2 on another card, the UFC is going to do another million PPV buys.

There’s no need to give Diaz whatever fight he wants aside from McGregor because he knows he can beat the Irishman and stands to make enough money to have you Stockton slap your mother multiple times. Why go after an opponent who is more dangerous with less mainstream appeal? Why would he fight Lawler? Sure, it’s a title fight, but something tells me that Diaz has a middle finger for any world title. The money? That’s a different story. Why not get what he probably perceives as an easier fight for more money? Who cares if it’s at UFC 200? Diaz obviously doesn’t care. The fight could be in the middle of Coachella Valley at 3 a.m. on a random Tuesday in July and Diaz would be out there in his fight kit saying, “I’m still not surprised mother [expletive].” You can’t tempt him with an event, and that’s a good thing because he’ll still maintain his clout while McGregor trains his ass off to rectify what went wrong at UFC 196.

All the UFC has to do is stand back and let it happen. You can send White all of the hate tweets you want, but as long as McGregor is not taking his ball and going home, he has nothing to worry about. As for all that nonsense about McGregor defending his title against the winner of Aldo-Edgar? Forget it. McGregor isn’t going back down to defend that title anytime soon. All he has on his mind is avenging a humiliating loss. Between the weight cut and the fact that he could care less about Aldo or Edgar, there’s no reason to continue the song and dance. Just make the interim title fight for the undisputed title and move on.

As you can see, the rationale behind White’s stubbornness to not let McGregor back on the card has merit. He’s no dummy. We can whine and complain and we can shower him with questions at press conferences, but White knows the only thing better than a show with one million PPV buys is another show with a million PPV buys.

Andreas Hale is the editorial content director of 2DopeBoyz.com, co-host of the boxing, MMA and pro wrestling podcast “The Corner” and a regular columnist for Sherdog.com. You can follow on Twitter for his random yet educated thoughts on combat sports, music, film and popular culture.

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