Short of GSP coming out of retirement to “save” the big card at UFC 200, with Conor McGregor “retired” (is he really? Answer: no, probably not), a new headliner is needed. Though Nate Diaz hastily claimed that he was retired as well in the wake of McGregor’s bombshell tweet, news quickly made the rounds that the Stockton native would be meeting with UFC brass to discuss a new opponent. Which means, more than likely, Nate Diaz will remain on the UFC 200 card.

Which makes for interesting times. For the first time in his entire career, Nate Diaz is a hotter commodity than his brother Nick. He’s also now known for something more than the Stockton slap, dual middle fingers, and a f— it all, ftw attitude: he’s the man who beat Conor McGregor.

Sure, it was in a non-title bout at welterweight, two classes above where McGregor holds the belt (until he either defends it, or the UFC strips him of it should this retirement talk prove true). It still, however, got him in the limelight, just like Holly Holm was thrust into the limelight following her shock defeat of Ronda Rousey.

The UFC, as a business, are not about to squander the newfound popularity of Nate Diaz. Not that he wasn’t popular before — but now, Diaz is on another level. PPV headliner level.

Whether he stays in that position for long is another matter. The aforementioned Holm fell in her first title defense, but Holm’s fame was instant. Diaz, well he has been more of a slow burn. He has fought for a title before, against Benson Henderson, and what MMA fan doesn’t recognize the Diaz brothers?

There’s a simple way to cash in on all this, and keep fans relatively happy when it comes to the UFC card:

Book Nate Diaz in a title fight, at welterweight, against Robbie Lawler.

I can already hear axes being sharpened. Look at it like this: While Tyron Woodley is the closest to a title shot, he’s not exactly blowing people away with his in-cage performances. Dana White suggested he would get a shot sometime after UFC 200, but so what? He can still have that shot, maybe a month or two delayed. He’s on just a two fight win streak, with his last victory a split decision over Kelvin Gastelum.

Diaz, meanwhile, just beat McGregor, at welterweight. Had McGregor won, we’d probably have seen Lawler vs. McGregor. On a two fight win streak himself, albeit in different weight classes, Diaz is the bigger name, the bigger draw, and the more fan friendly fight in comparison to Woodley. And you know what? UFC 200 is probably the one time it’s okay to throw the rankings out the window, and say “Screw it, lets book a fan-friendly fight!”

It would also add a third title fight to the UFC 200 card, alongside Miesha Tate vs. Amanda Nunes, and Jose Aldo vs. Frankie Edgar. That trio of bouts alone would be enough to carry the historic card, on top of a great undercard. Plus, it’s perfectly able to headline the big card. Lawler has been a beast in his last few fights. Diaz backs down from no one.

Does Diaz “deserve” a welterweight title shot at this point? No, but as Clint Eastwood’s William Munny said in Unforgiven, deserve’s got nothin’ to do with it.

About The Author

Senior Staff Writer

Covering the sport of MMA from Ontario, Canada, Jay Anderson has been writing for various publications covering sports, technology, and pop culture since 2001. Jay holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Guelph, and a Certificate in Leadership Skills from Humber College under the Ontario Management Development Program. When not slaving at the keyboard, he can be found in the company of his dog, a good book, or getting lost in the woods.