Reports from multiple outlets suggest that UFC 197 could be another enormous event for the promotion with the word being that Conor McGregor will fight Rafael dos Anjos, while Holly Holm takes on Miesha Tate.
The rumor originally stemmed from a Bleacher Report, but MMAfighting.com have since confirmed with sources close to the situation that this is indeed the UFC’s plan for the March 5th event in Las Vegas.
Since dismantling Jose Aldo by KO in just 13 seconds last month at UFC 197 specuation has been rife about who McGregor would fight next, with the man himself indicating that he was considering either defending his new featherweight title against Frankie Edgar, or moving up to lightweight to challenge Dos Anjos.
It was known that McGregor’s camp favored him moving up a division as the weight cut down to 145lbs takes a big toll on their fighter, though it doesn’t mean that ‘The Notorious’ will be vacating the featherweight title as the 27 year-old has been adamant that his intention is to hold two belts at the same time, and Dana White has since confirmed that he would be allowed to do so.
Dos Anjos is a daunting opponent for anyone at this moment in time as he’s been rampaging through the lightweight divisions great and good for the past couple of years, during which time his biggest moments having included KO’ing former champion Ben Henderson in the first round, convincingly defeating Anthony Pettis to win the title, and then defending it in December with a 66 second TKO of Donald Cerrone.
With that kind of form RDA has become one of the most feared fighters around, reflected in the fact that he’s not ranked No.6 on the UFC’s official pound-for-pound rankings in the first week of 2016.
McGregor appears not to be intimidated though as he too is being leaving a trail of destruction in his wake, with his title win over Aldo being the culmination of an impressive seven fight unbeaten run in the Octagon since signing for the UFC back in early 2013.
Along the way he’s defeated the likes of Chad Mendes, Max Holloway and Dustin Poirier, with six of his seven victories coming by way of strikes.
McGregor VS RDA is in itself a big enough fight to ensure blockbuster numbers for UFC 197, but the UFC are believed to be doubling up on the title action with Holly Holm making her first woman’s bantamweight title defense against Miesha Tate.
In the immediate aftermath of her upset of the year head kick knockout of Ronda Rousey in November of last year at UFC 193 all the talk was of an immediate rematch, but with Rousey out for an indefinite amount of time the new champion made it clear she was eager to defend her belt against someone else in the mean time, and she’s been granted her wish.
That’s great news for current No.2 contender Tate who was furious last year when she was told she would be rematching Rousey, only to then have the opportunity taken from her when Holm was suddenly propelled to title contention instead.
Holm, a former multiple time world champion in boxing, enters into this fight with a perfect 10-0 MMA record. Her early fights marked her out as a destructive kickboxer, with her first five fights all ending by either kicks or punches, which quickly led to her being touted as a potential opponent in the making for Rousey.
Holm was soon signed by the UFC and made her debut in February of 2015, but she didn’t immediately set the Octagon alight, producing a narrow split decision win against Raquel Pennington and then a unanimous decision victory over Marion Reneau.
However, Holm truly rose to the occasion in November when she fought Rousey for the title in front of a record breaking 56,000 fans in the Etihad Stadium in Australia with over a million watching on pay-per-view, easily picking apart the unbeaten champion with punches, shutting her down her attempts to grapple and then KO’ing her with the head kick heard around the world to life the title.
Impressive stuff, but upon watching that historic moment Tate immediately called out for the next title shot. A former Strikeforce champion, Tate is currently riding a four-fight winning streak in the Octagon and after taking out other top contenders like Liz Carmouche, Sara McMann and Jessica Eye she firmly believes she can do the same to Holm and realize her own dream to become a UFC champion.
Both fights are sure to be fascinating encounters and should be another moneyspinner for the promotion. At the same time it’s also a big of a gamble from the Las Vegas based outfit as UFC 200 in July is looming large on the horizon and McGregor and Holm had been seen as the two centerpieces of that historic show.
The UFC are apparently willing to take the risk of either star being defeated or injured though in favor of striking while the iron is hot and that means we’re now less than two months away from another thrilling night of unmissable, high-stakes MMA action.