The #featherweight and #lightweight divisions of the #UFC are a muddled mess right now. Leading into UFC 205, the featherweight champion was absent from his division. #ConorMcGregor won the 145 pound title back in 2015 but had not returned to the division since. Despite fighting twice at 170, McGregor set his sights on becoming the first ever two weight champion. An exasperated #JoseAldo, who had become the interim champion in his absence, was threatening to take his ball and go home.
Dana White was true to his word, stripping McGregor of the featherweight belt. Aldo was promoted to undisputed champion without fighting anyone. This left a lot of people scrathcing their heads. Featherweight contenders, #MaxHolloway and Anthony Pettis were set to throwdown in the main event of #UFC206, in what was understood to be a title eliminator.
However, when the main fight fell through, this contendership clash suddenly became an interim title fight. Holloway beat Pettis in a triumphant moment and immediately asked: "Where's Jose Waldo?"
Holloway versus Aldo was believed to be almost a certainty. Until...Ariel Helwani sat down with Aldo in an explosive interivew. Aldo revealed that he may soon be announced in an interim lightweight championship bout. The Holloway fight is indefinitely on hold. The confusion has spread to the 155 pound division. Prior to Aldo entering the picture, it seemed Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov would fight for yet another interim belt.
Khabib and Ferguson are both deserving contenders dominating at lightweight. Word is that at one stage they were given contracts for this bout but failed to come to an agreement. To make matters more mind boggling, #NateDiaz has said he was offered a contract for the interim fight.
So how do we fix this mess? For starters, Jose Aldo should stay at 145 pounds. Though Aldo versus Diaz sounds like a fun prospect, the featherweight champion needs to stay put. Aldo should fight Holloway as planned, we do not need another absent champ with an interim waiting. In the meantime, Cub Swanson should fight Yair Rodriguez for the next number one contender spot. If Hollway/Aldo cannot happen for some reason, Swanson should get an opportunity. He recently put on a stunning performance against Dooho Choi in a barnburner.
Here is a solution to the rather more complex problem in the lightweight division. Tony Ferguson should still fight Khabib for the interim belt, the winner of course unifies against McGregor. Khabib and McGregor already have momentum behind their feud as it is and those two facing eachother just makes sense to me as a narrative. Read more of my thoughts on that here. If Ferguson wins the interim belt, then this would be an interesting bout too. Ferguson could be a big challenge for McGregor, he is also a bit of a dark horse when it comes to trash talk.
As we already know, the UFC want to keep Diaz vs McGregor 3 in their back pocket. That has proven to be a dramatic and entertaining match-up not too mention lucrative. So, while a number one contender emerges, Nate Diaz faces Edson Barboza.
After beating Anthony Pettis in April and Gilbert Melendez in July, it seemed that Barboza was the next title contender. Since then he seems to have dropped off the face of the Earth. Sherdog says he is not fighting until March against Beneil Dariush. Barboza should be in the title race if you ask me, match him against Diaz for the next spot down. No interim belt, that has become a nonsense thing used to hype up every contendership fight.
I hope you enjoyed this breakdown of the featherweight and lightweight division. This is just one plan I would have on how to fix it, the longer I think about it the more it changes. There are a number of schemes in my head involving every one of the fighters mentioned in various alternative fights. How would you book these fighters to sort out the contendership mess? Let me know in the comments below!