Now that the cards for UFC 213 and 214 are beginning to take shape, and we have UFC 211 behind us, we can begin to wonder who the promotion will call upon at UFC 215 in August.
Currently unannounced, the late-summer pay-per-view (PPV) event, UFC 215, has a few interesting options in the middle of a packed calendar.
A slow start to 2017 has the UFC hoping for a better second-half of the year, and the events scheduled for the summer have us excited for what’s to come. The nine events slated for June and July are full of quality matchups, including a few PPV cards any fan can appreciate. The problem is, the UFC doesn’t have a ton of depth right now. Specifically, at the top-tier of their divisions.
The promotion has struggled to schedule and promote a few of their main events this year, leading to a string of troubled PPVs. The trouble came after a trio of PPV events over the final seven weeks of 2016. The cards featured five title fights between them, leaving the cupboards bare come UFC 208 in Janu-erm, February. Things have since picked up, but following a similarly impressive set of events this summer, what’s remaining for UFC 215?
The event still doesn’t have a date, but with UFC 216 already announced for September 9 in Edmonton, news regarding UFC 215 should be coming shortly. The promotion is busy sorting out issues with Georges St. Pierre, Conor McGregor, Cris Cyborg, and more, and we hope August’s PPV doesn’t get lost in the shuffle.
The promotion may have been attempting multiple title fights for their July PPVs, but we aren’t expecting the same treatment for UFC 215. Following UFC 216 in September, there will be three more PPV cards before the already-announced UFC 220 on December 30. So, the promotion will likely keep more than a few belts ready for the final quarter of 2017.
Main events are never set in stone, something fight fans have learned the hard way on a regular basis. Despite that, a couple of bouts make more sense for UFC 215 than the rest.
There are several titles we can rule out immediately for the promotion’s yet-to-be-announced August PPV. Jose Aldo and Max Holloway are unifying their featherweight titles at UFC 212 in June, while Amanda Nunes and Daniel Cormier will defend their belts against Valentina Shevchenko and Jon Jones respectively, tying them up in July.
There’s also the still-scheduled (as of this writing) bantamweight bout between Cody Garbrandt and TJ Dillashaw. Slated to be the main event of International Fight Week at UFC 213, the title-fight is looking like it’ll be shelved for the time being while Garbrandt undergoes therapy on his back.
August is also probably a bit early for recent title-defenders Stipe Miocic and Joanna Jedrzejczyk to return to the Octagon, and the promotion will likely hold on to those valuable assets for the final few cards of the year.
We can also rule out lightweight champion and apparent professional boxer Conor McGregor, who’s doing his part to make MMA his side-gig. Whatever’s going on with Michael Bisping and Georges St. Pierre is all sorts of confusing, but it’s clear that August doesn’t fit into either fighter’s timeline.
The title bout that makes the most sense for UFC 215 features welterweight champion Tyron Woodley. That defense could come against number-one contender Demian Maia, or outsider Nick Diaz, with an August timeline possible for all parties. He’s said as much in recent interviews, and compared to other options, Woodley is the champion that fits best into the promotion’s August PPV slot.
Demetrious Johnson would probably be available, and his record-breaking 11th title-defense is a story worth a PPV main event. Unfortunately, buyers of UFC PPVs don’t necessarily agree. Whether it’s Ray Borg, or another 125-pound contender, Johnson’s historic bout will likely be either a PPV co-main event, or headline a non-PPV card.
With Garbrandt struggling with his back, TJ Dillashaw has entertained the thought of moving to flyweight to challenge Demetrious Johnson for the title. The UFC likes the idea, according to Brett Okamoto.
If Garbrandt can't go and UFC makes DJ vs. TJ, White tells me it'd be in August. Not official, but looking at DJ headlining PPV in Seattle.
— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) May 19, 2017
Mighty Mouse himself is not a fan of the idea, but where there’s a will, there’s a way.
There’s also the potential of a couple of interim belts, a trend we were hoping to have left behind in 2016. Alas, McGregor’s foray into boxing leaves the possibility of an interim lightweight belt, which was already booked, then canceled, at UFC 209 earlier this year. August is likely too soon for anything involving Khabib Nurmagomedov, but the possibility of Tony Ferguson fighting Nate Diaz, while unlikely, is still out there.
There’s the mess at women’s featherweight, too. Germaine de Randamie seems to have taken her title and gone home, leaving Cris Cyborg and the promotion scrambling to find their Brazilian superstar a worthwhile opponent. Whether they strip de Randamie, or go the interim route, Cyborg’s next fight will be for a UFC belt. She was campaigning hard for Anaheim’s PPV, and if that’s a little too soon for a resolution, August might just work.
August might work for the potential creation of an interim middleweight title as well. While late-summer may not work for GSP or Bisping, promotion President Dana White has signaled that the UFC is willing to create yet another interim belt for the 185-pound division. Whether or not that could get sorted out with Yoel Romero and an opponent (perhaps Robert Whittaker) over the next couple of weeks is anyone’s guess.
The options aren’t exactly plentiful, but following a solid summer of cards, what’s remaining for UFC 215 could be worse. Depending on what happens in a couple of currently scheduled title-bouts, things could change. Whether they do, or don’t, Tyron Woodley defending his belt is the best fit for August’s PPV.