With Conor McGregor's chances of resurrecting his UFC 200 fight against Nate Diaz effectively dead in the water ever since last week's announcement that Jon Jones vs Daniel Cormier would headline the July 9 event, those fans hoping to see the Irishman return in the near future have turned to the next set of UFC pay-per-views for hope.
Indeed, with Dana White and McGregor's own coach, John Kavanagh, having openly touted UFC 201 as a potential date recently, fans had gotten their hopes up that they would only have to wait until late July to see the Irish fighter's return to the octagon.
Speculation today, however, suggests the UFC is all set to announce a headline event for the July 29 pay-per-view that would leave both McGregor and Diaz out in the cold.
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According to MMA Fighting's Ariel Helwani, the UFC has lined up a welterweight title fight between Robbie Lawler and Tyron Woodley to headline the 201 PPV. Although it is yet to be officially announced by the organisation, Helwani noted on Wednesday that talks are in their latter stages and it is "what they want".
If the UFC do go ahead and book Lawler vs Woodley, it all but rules out a McGregor vs Diaz rematch for the event.
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While the Irishman may have ruffled a few feathers within the UFC hierarchy with his retirement claims recently, White and co. know that they can't include McGregor anywhere else on a fight card than as the headline bout.
As a result, it looks like the 27-year-old's return the octagon won't be happening until at least August.
Of course, things can quickly change in the UFC. We only have to look back at the past month's speculation about UFC 200 to prove fights can be added at any time. If the UFC really are on the verge of announcing a Lawler title defence for UFC 201, however, McGregor's team is running out of time to persuade them otherwise.
If a McGregor return is pushed back until UFC 202, it does also open the opportunity for the organisation to set up a featherweight title match, rather than a re-run of the UFC 196 bout that saw Diaz submit the Irishman.
For that to happen, the UFC 200 bout between Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar would have to be extremely short if they are to be in peak condition for a swift return themselves.
A McGregor vs Diaz rematch is the fight everyone really wants to see, however. If we are destined to wait until August for that to happen, the UFC will be relying on both fighters to continue their current war of words outside the octagon to maintain the momentum.
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