With the matchup of lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson being canceled for the fifth time, the UFC looked to make an interim title fight between Ferguson and Justin Gaethje until their plans were shut down by top executives at ESPN and Disney. Now that the UFC has time to rearrange their fight cards and events, while looking to put on the most money-making fights that make sense, here are five fights the UFC must put on when they return to an active schedule.
Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson – UFC lightweight championship
It really goes without saying that this should be at the forefront for the UFC when things get back to normal. Now with Nurmagomedov’s religious obligations, he likely won’t be back until September but there’s no need to give Ferguson another opponent just for the sake of doing so. These two fighters need to be put on ice, protected, and not even thought of having another fight until they can be matched up once again later this year.
Kamaru Usman vs. Jorge Masvidal – UFC welterweight championship
There were rumblings that Kamaru Usman and or Jorge Masvidal could’ve stepped up and fought at UFC 249, but just like the matchup mentioned above, they need to be put on ice and wait for their meeting against each other.
Masvidal’s meteoric rise to the top of the division in 2019 was remarkable, but it’s not a finished journey. Usman has been great in his own way, dismantling former champion Tyron Woodley to win the title, then finishing Colby Covington in his first title defense. These two can not only fight, they can sell and promote a fight with the best of them.
This fight was scheduled to take place this summer and it’s a fight that must happen to inject excitement back into the UFC.
Tyron Woodley vs. Colby Covington
These two men have a feud that has gone back a couple of years and now is the time to make the fight happen. They were also rumored to possibly face each other during the juggling of UFC 249, but to no avail for either side. Woodley has said he’s done chasing a fight with Covington, but a report recently stated that Covington could be moving to WWE in 2021.
Before he ventures off to professional wrestling Covington should put an end to this rivalry with Woodley.
Israel Adesanya vs. Paulo Costa – UFC middleweight championship
A common theme in this list has been to book fights with some rivalry heat between the fighters. Part of that is because the UFC will need to go all-in and put on the biggest fights possible. However, the other side to this is that Adesanya competed on the last UFC PPV that aired before the shutdown, and fans wanted more from “The Last Stylebender”.
There’s no doubt he fought a smart fight against the very dangerous Yoel Romero, but he’s gone through the middleweight division and has one man that is standing in front of him screaming for a fight.
Costa was supposed to fight Israel Adesanya but is still recovering from a biceps injury and this time away will likely pay dividends to this fight. The quickest way to make sure everyone remembers who he is as middleweight champion is to put him against a tough, relentless, and loud opponent like Costa.
Conor McGregor vs. Nate Diaz 3 at lightweight
While thinking this fight will happen at 155-pounds is a dream, it’s where it makes the most sense.
McGregor and Diaz have split the results of their two fights against each other but both have happened at welterweight. McGregor has made it known that he wants to fight for the title again and while his impressive return to defeat Donald Cerrone in 40 seconds back in January turned some heads, there has to be another fight for “The Notorious”.
Justin Gaethje makes the most sense for a title-eliminator fight against McGregor, but will he take that fight? One thing that both McGregor and Diaz have in their back pocket is this trilogy matchup that’ll make the UFC a lot of money but could also have high stakes inside the lightweight division.
There are tons of fights that need to be made when the UFC returns, but the mentioned five are five that are sure to get the excitement and adrenaline back into the UFC and their fans.