UFC 171 was a big weekend for the welterweight division. The event featured many high-profile battles including the fight for the vacant UFC Welterweight Championship between Johny Hendricks and Robbie Lawler.
Lawler came up just short in the main event to Hendricks.
The talking points were not just related to the fights. Nick Diaz surfaced during the weigh-ins to heckle the main event fighters, and he made it known he wants to return to action for a title fight.
A fight for the gold is unlikely. Diaz has been absent from the sport since dropping his last bid for the title against Georges St-Pierre. For over a year, he has been gone, and he is no longer ranked in the official UFC divisional rankings.
Regardless, the right move for the UFC is to pit Diaz and Lawler against one another in a title eliminator bout.
Hendricks, the newly minted champion, is out injured. He recently had surgery to repair his bicep, and he will be out of action for some time. That gives the UFC some leeway in making more welterweight bouts to determine the next contender.
Diaz spouted to Sportsnet's Joe Ferraro (via Mike Johnston) that everyone will make more money with him in the title picture, and that is hard to argue against. The Stockton native is a polarizing figure that has MMA fans buying pay-per-views to watch him win or to watch him get beat up.
He draws. He is interesting.
The same cannot be said for the slate of contenders that are currently lining up for title shots. Rory MacDonald, Tyron Woodley, Hector Lombard and others are good fighters but have not generated interest from the fans. They have failed to promote themselves.
Lawler narrowly lost at UFC 171, and he is the No. 1-ranked welterweight in the division. He is one fight away from challenging for the strap once more. Diaz is the perfect foil.
The two first met at UFC 47 in 2004. Diaz stunned everyone with a knockout over the powerful Lawler in the second round.
Since that time, both men have grown as fighters and personalities. They found success outside of the Octagon and returned better than ever.
If Diaz wants another title shot, a fight against Lawler is his quickest path. He can knock off the top contender and put himself right back at the forefront of the division. Lawler will have the opportunity to avenge one of his early losses, restake his claim as the top contender and get his next title fight.
Stylistically, this is the type of fight that the UFC salivates over.
This is the perfect fight. Two aggressive, well-rounded fighters who ultimately enjoy exchanging blows while looking for a knockout. Lawler and Diaz are marketable, and the fight would generate a lot of interest.
In the new age of MMA, without GSP and other stars, the UFC is in dire need of fights that sell.
This one sells.
It is a fight that everyone would love to see, and that is why the UFC needs to sign the rematch with a title shot on the line.
This is the proper time to make the rematch. Nick Diaz vs. Robbie Lawler II would be the must-see fight of 2014.
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