Traditionally Memorial Day weekend is one of the UFC's bigger events of the year. With MW champ Chris Weidman out injured, who can they book in his place?
Brent Brookhouse: Diaz wants to make money and this is a situation where he could use leverage to do so. I know some would get hung up on him headlining a card in what would likely have to be an "important" fight given his recent run and retirement, but he's one of the few "marketable" guys they have that can step in and generate some sort of reaction.
That said, I tend to think that trying to work with Wanderlei Silva and Chael Sonnen to move that fight back to the previously targeted 173 might be an easier idea. Is it a "big" main event? Not really. But it's a fight that they've already been hyping with a good amount of regularity through the TUF: Brazil ads and Chael knows how to do his media duties to sell a fight.
You can do any number of things with the Brazil show to make up for losing that fight.
Zane Simon: Personally, I don't hold too much with tradition and I think it'd be a fine card with just another good heavyweight fight. Maybe Overeem vs. Mitrione or something like that. I think JDS at the top of a still solid card is decent enough. And I don't think any of the lighter weight title fights they could slap on to it would improve it to the point that it'd be worth gutting other cards down the line.
Steph Daniels: Nick Diaz vs himself in a shadow boxing bout. Seriously though, any Diaz fight will sell. Also, I wish we could get another Cung Le fight in the books. I love those.
Tim Burke: I'd be very surprised if any champion other than maybe Demetrious Johnson agreed to a title defense on eight weeks notice.
Brent is right, the only really viable option is Chael Sonnen vs. Wanderlei Silva. Who do you throw Nick Diaz in there with? Everyone's either booked, hurt, or just coming off a tough fight. Plus, do you even trust Diaz enough to use him in a main event slot right now?
They could just go with JDS/Miocic as the main, mostly because a lot of the other options they could potentially put in there are hurt. Alistair Overeem is injured. Rashad Evans is injured. Carlos Condit is injured.
T.P. Grant: A title fight is likely out of the picture here, the UFC may just have to punt on that idea unless they can get possibly Rousey someone to fight and get her back in the cage quickly, which I don't see as likely. Other than that a high profile fight of Top 5 Heavyweights or Light Heavyweights locking up would be an acceptable substitute.
Trent Reinsmith: On a personal level I would like to see a Nick Diaz fight, but the odds of him agreeing to anything other than a title fight are slim, unless they throw a huge check his way. I think Diaz would change his mind of title fight only for that reason.
I don't really have any interest in Sonnen versus Silva and all the over the top promotion that will surround that fight, but I do know that it well sell, so that could very well be an option.
I like the idea of Cormier getting back in there, but with the shortened camp I have to wonder if he would be willing to do that.
Looking at the card, they do need a needle mover to headline the event. Sure, Dos Santos versus Miocic is a decent fight, but outside of that, there's nothing to really sell this card to the people that aren't already going to buy it. So, I guess that brings me back to Sonnen versus Silva as the fight I think will be moved to headline the event.
Patrick Wyman: I really don't think that JDS-Miocic is enough to carry this card, especially with a co-main of Mizugaki-Dillashaw. They could move Sonnen-SIlva back a week to be the headliner, but they have a lot invested in that fight in Brazil, and I'm not certain that it really makes sense to do that outside of a scenario in which they've exhausted all their other options.
Daniel Cormier vs. Alexander Gustafsson would be a fine headliner, and barring title fights that are being targeted for June events (Mendes-Aldo II, Barao-Assuncao), they're just about the only two highly ranked fighters in any division who aren't injured and don't have an upcoming fight booked. Alternatively, they could try and book one or more of the aforementioned lighter-weight title fights, or Johnson-Bagautinov.
Finally, Nick Diaz is just kinda chilling, waiting for his opportunity. This is it. He might not get the hand-picked matchup for which he seems to have been hoping, but he could get Tyron Woodley or Rory MacDonald and a nice, shiny paycheck for his trouble. Depending on how much he's enjoyed the services of the 209's compassionate care clinics over the last year, that could be the deciding factor.
John S. Nash: CM Punk vs Hershel Walker. That would outsell anything else we could come up with.
Tim Burke: They're saving that for Cowboys Stadium.
John S. Nash: Then how about Diaz, Lawler, Woodley and Lombard in a four-man one night tourney for a shot at Hendricks?
Anton Tabuena: Might be time to call on Rich Franklin to save another card again. Diaz vs Franklin. Book it.
Fernando Arbex: It's all Overeem's fault, JDS vs Reem should hold a ppv card in an emergency.
John S. Nash: A double header of Diaz vs Lawler and Chael vs Wandy would probably do pretty well. Market it as a night of grudge matches and I'd think it sell better than most cards with title fights today.
Fraser Coffeen: I don't like being Mr. Negativity, but I think our somewhat jokey answers here says a lot about the real answer, which is: there is no good answer. Cormier vs. Gus? Chael vs. Wandy? Diaz vs. Lawler? All are OK match-ups, but none feels like a MAIN EVENT. And I think that speaks volumes to the issues surrounding the UFC's marketing machine right now. There are very few seriously marketable fighters out there at the moment - hell, not even all of the champions are particularly marketable (I love Johnson and Barao, but they don't draw). When you have such a small number of actual main event level drawing talent, you have to dig deep to find a compelling headliner, and with the current injuries and bookings, I just don't see a good option.
The end result of all of this is that those who maybe could be a real draw will have a lot to gain in the coming year. Diaz is an obvious one, but that's also whey Gina Carano of all people has been brought up again. Plus the mountain of cash set aside to bring GSP back just continues to grow, and if Anderson Silva is smart, he's looking to make his own pile grow as well. The UFC needs big stars, and right now, they don't have enough of them for the schedule they are going on.
Mookie Alexander: Short of Wanderlei/Chael they're going to have to punt it and call this PPV a wash. Any fight they move from a card nearer that date is going to rob FS1 or Fight Pass of a main event and those cards are subsequently going to tank.
This, combined with the lack of healthy champions, is the downside to an increase in events. They have spread themselves so thin that PPVs are going to have to suffer. UFC 173 is not a bad card, but it's not a deep card. There are no top 10 fighters after Mizugaki/Dillashaw and that's the original 3rd main card fight. PPV caliber fights (but not necessarily PPV caliber main events) are now being passed along to Fox, Fox Sports 1 and Fight Pass. Bolstering a PPV on the fly pretty much means they have to weaken other cards around them.
That doesn't mean "more events" is bad, but that's the risk the UFC takes when their PPVs have little-to-no depth/drawing power below the main event. And they're in a tough spot with UFC 173 just 2 months away.
Brent Brookhouse: Going back to what I first said, I just think the most realistic option is Sonnen vs. Silva. It's a single week move for a fight that they have already promoted. The issue could be that Globo doesn't want to give that fight up, but offer them a Renan Barao fight if you can get Barao on board. Replacing Sonnen/Silva with a title fight may be enough to smooth things over. Or maybe something fun and different like Jose Aldo taking a fight at 155 with a guaranteed future lightweight title shot on the line.
But I'm a dreamer with that one, I suppose.
Kid Nate: That's it for the roundtable, what do you think they'll end up doing?