They are back! Both UFC President Dana White and the fans are (mostly) stoked to hear of the return of its biggest superstars: Conor McGregor, Brock Lesnar, and eventually, Georges St-Pierre.
Lesnar stole headlines after storming into the octagon to shove dual-champion Daniel Cormier following his knockout victory over Stipe Miocic last July. Not too long after, the UFC sent shockwaves again by dropping the McGregor vs Nurmagomedov announcement during their 25th Anniversary press conference earlier in August.
With the returns of the sport’s biggest icons, mega fights are sure to ensue. Here are five of the biggest money fights that are most likely to come in the next two years:
1. St-Pierre vs McGregor (2019)
McGregor is set to make his long-anticipated return and will fight the undefeated Khabib Nurmagamedov to crown the undisputed lightweight title. If he wins, he will most likely be challenged by St-Pierre.
GSP had a short and sweet comeback last 2017 when he became the fourth UFC fighter to become a two-division champion by beating Michael Bisping for the middleweight title. He is presently waiting for the right opportunity for another comeback as he recovers from surgery.
A St-Pierre vs McGregor bout for the lightweight title could break pay-per-view records. It gives McGregor the opportunity to defeat who many believe is the “GOAT” and gives St-Pierre the chance to become the first-ever three-division UFC champion. Alternative Fight: St-Pierre vs Nurmagomedov (only if he beats McGregor)
2. Cormier vs Lesnar (2019)
There is no official timetable for this bout, but it is all but set in stone barring a drug suspension to Lesnar. The current WWE Universal champion is set to make his UFC return some time next year after he goes through the USADA testing pool.
Lesnar hasn’t fought an MMA fight since UFC 200 in 2016 in which Cormier was also a part of. Originally challenged by Jon Jones, a fight with Cormier will still sell over a million PPV’s guaranteed. Lesnar also has a decent chance to win the fight due to the size discrepancy. The UFC is hoping for a Lesnar victory here, so they can set up another mega fight…
3. McGregor vs Diaz III (2019)
The trilogy will happen at some point regardless of each fighter’s win-loss record. Just before the McGregor-Nurmagomedov announcement, Nate Diaz was booked in a high-profile bout against Dustin Poirier, also a former opponent of McGregor.
The two were booked as a co-main event fight for the New York card later this year. Even if this fight falls through, McGregor and Diaz will collide at some point next year or in 2020.
Diaz won the first bout as a huge underdog while McGregor narrowly won the rematch. Both fights were main events to two of the top-three best-selling UFC events. The trilogy will be another hit and a fourth fight isn’t even crazy given how entertaining the two are together.
Alternative Fight: McGregor vs Poirier II
4. Lesnar vs Velasquez II (2020)
Outside Cormier, this is the next biggest fight for Lesnar. Cain Velasquez ended Lesnar’s reign as UFC champion back in 2010 but has only fought seven times since due to battling numerous injuries. Like Lesnar, he hasn’t competed in the UFC since UFC 200.
This fight would be more marketable if Lesnar defeats Cormier and becomes the new UFC champion. There will be more narratives to play with. Velasquez has also reportedly been open to performing in the WWE and was training in their Performance Center last month.
The WWE and UFC can co-promote a Lesnar-Velasquez rematch with Velasquez making appearances in the WWE in a “feud” that will span both promotions. But this all depends on Velasquez’s health and Lesnar’s performance against Cormier.
5. St-Pierre vs Silva (2020)
This fight is about a decade too late, but it still holds some appeal. St-Pierre shot down possibilities of fighting Silva for the meantime, but he might change his tune later if a fight with McGregor falls through.
Silva controversially won his last fight early in 2017 but lost four of five before that. He has also seen his legacy tarnished by two failed drug tests, one of which he was suspended for following an embarrassing defense to the NSAC.
While it won’t be a guaranteed home run, a St-Pierre vs Silva bout will still draw plenty of attention and give each fighter the opportunity to further cement their legacies as the “GOAT”.