*Dana White tweeted on Tuesday night that a Carlos Condit-Nick Diaz rematch will in fact take place. Wednesday, rumors abounded that the fight won't happen after all; as of the time of this posting, things remain murky.
But the bout makes sense on several levels. For one, the most optimistic scenario for Georges St-Pierre's return to the cage is November. In addition to GSP, Condit and Diaz, the welterweight division has vets like Josh Koscheck and Jon Fitch hanging around and up-and-comers like Jake Ellenberger and Johny Hendricks knocking on the door. A nine-month gap between Condit winning the interim title and challenging St-Pierre, which, again, is a best-case scenario, is a long time to have both guys with title belts on the sidelines when so many solid fighters are looking for their opportunity.
For another, as much as both Condit and Diaz's fans want to claim their guy won in a convincing manner, the margin of victory in their UFC 143 bout was razor-thin. The fact the decision is still the lead topic of conversation in MMA days later shows there's plenty of interest. Which leads to our final reason to make the match: Business. Condit-Diaz 2 is a surefire hit in a year in which the UFC has already had to scrap a planned Montreal date because of a lack of viable headlining bouts. Whether the rematch is a pay-per-view or UFC on Fox headliner, the match will attract attention along the lines of the biggest bouts of the year.
*Renan Barao moved up to No. 4 in MMAWeekly's bantamweight rankings after his UFC 143 win over Scott Jorgensen. Gaudy 28-fight win streak notwithstanding, I'm not convinced Barao is the next big thing at bantamweight. An inability to finish Jorgensen, in and of itself, is nothing to be ashamed of, as Jorgensen has only been stopped once in his career.
But Barao's pace slowed considerably starting around the midpoint of the fight, and that's not going to cut it if he's in the cage with Dominick Cruz for five rounds, or with Urijah Faber, for that matter. A matchup with Joe Benavidez, assuming Benavidez gets the win over Yasuhiro Urushitani on March 3, would be an interesting gauge of where Barao reallly stands among the bantamweight elite. (Update: I straight-up forgot Benavidez is going into the flyweight tourney. I still think he'd be a good match for Barao, though).
*Kudos to Eddie Alvarez for turning down entry into Bellator's next lightweight tournament and taking a date with Shinya Aoki instead. The bout takes place April 20 at a location yet to be announced. Alvarez's decision puts the spotlight on what's going to be a kink in Bellator's tourney system going forward: Why should Alvarez have to fight his way through three opponents just to get another crack at the championship?
Tourneys are a great way for an up-and-coming fighter to gain exposure, but when you've already made a name for yourself, as Alvarez has, there's little to gain and tons to lose. Alvarez needs to stay sharp in the wake of his title loss. He'll have a far bigger test of his skills fighting someone the caliber of Aoki, and will have more motivation in attempting to avenge his 2008 submission loss, than he would in slogging his way through another tournament.
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