Everybody, every single MMA fan out there, is waiting, probably salivating at the possible showdown on the horizon between Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone and new UFC featherweight champion “Notorious” Conor McGregor.

Cerrone and McGregor clearly have bad blood emanating from the UFC’s press conference a few months back when the Irish star verbally lambasted just about everyone on the stage. Now with McGregor wearing a belt and wanting to claim at least one more, the potential fight is halfway set.

But Cerrone has to make good on the other half of the equation, which will require him taking the lightweight belt from Rafael Dos Anjos on Saturday in Orlando.

So what happens if Dos Anjos retains the crown in the 155-pound division? It’s not without reason to expect that result out of the Brazilian who has won four in a row (including his title-belt win over Anthony Pettis), nine of his last 10, and already holds a victory over Cerrone coming in 2013.

Say Dos Anjos wins. There are other fights for him at 155 including a rematch with Pettis. Cerrone would fall back into the depths of the division alongside several names like injured but undefeated sensation Khabib Nurmagomedov and surging Tony Ferguson.

So what then becomes of McGregor’s quest to reign at 155 as well as 145? Sure, he had some uncomplimentary things to say about Dos Anjos, but their rivalry doesn’t seem compelling, certainly not at the marketable level of one with Cerrone.

But someone else on the UFC on Fox 17 card would make for an absolutely riveting tilt with McGregor. It’s a long-shot, a giant ‘What If’ dream, yet Matchmaking 101 says it is a huge seller.

Provided he leaves Orlando with a ‘W’ and other scenarios play out, jump McGregor into the lightweight ranks against … Nate Diaz.

Sit back and imagine, if you will, those conference calls, press conferences, and weigh-in square-offs if these two are locked into a battle.

Diaz has been somewhat of a part-time player, having fought only five times since 2012 heading into this weekend’s matchup against Michael Johnson. It’s certainly no gimme that Diaz defeats Johnson, who has won four of his last five, with a split-decision setback to Beneil Dariush being his only setback.

Although he has lost three of his last four, Diaz has left a trail of defeated bodies behind when focused and motivated – Gray Maynard, Jim Miller and Donald Cerrone. Plus he still holds one of the UFC’s greatest all-time finishes. Rude, certainly, but his double-middle finger/bicep-flex triangle choke submission of Kurt Pellegrino is a classic.

Diaz and McGregor are perfect fits and rivals, virtually cut from the same cloth. Their game plans in the cage are reasonably similar. Neither are huge power punches as they operate on a volume approach yet they have KO abilities as Maynard and Jose Aldo found out the hard way. Diaz would likely have a fair-sized edge in jiu-jitsu, though many are set up by attrition via barrages of strikes.

Both can play the face and heel roles. Both have fanbases that eat up everything they say and do. The rival fanbases will hate everything the other one does.

McGregor is a company guy who wears a suit and tie, has character that resonates with celebrities and advertisers, and yet he can still get down in the mud and muck of a nasty rivalry.

Diaz is anti-establishment, wouldn’t wear a suit at his own funeral, hates pretty much anyone who isn’t from the ‘209’ and would relish the opportunity to create a stir at every stop along the McGregor-powered hype train.

It’s a fight that probably won’t happen, but if it did, one can only imagine the buzz.

About The Author

Scott Zerr
Staff Writer

Scott joins The MMA Corner having spent the last 14 years in mixed martial arts as Director of Media & Fighter Relations for the Maximum Fighting Championship. He will provide The MMA Corner with insight on breaking news in the sport, plus an insider's perspective on business developments, matchmaking, fighter signings, and much more. In addition to his longtime work in MMA, Scott was a sports reporter before moving into media relations and marketing. After growing up and working in Edmonton, Alberta, Scott has since moved to Bakersfield, California to be with his wife Christina (an avid fight fan, thank goodness) and kids.