At the upcoming UFC 262 pay-per-view, there will be a five-round non-title co-main event for the first time in the promotion's history. The pay-per-view, which is scheduled to take place on April 15, marks the return of Nate Diaz in a welterweight firefight against top-contender Leon Edwards.
The winner is expected to land himself a shot at the title in the future. UFC 262 is headlined by a fight for the vacant UFC lightweight title between Michael Chandler and Charles Oliveira.
While we have seen many epic non-title co-main events in the past, none of them were scheduled for five rounds. Five-round fights are usually reserved for title fights and main events. However, Dana White is choosing to make an exception this time around and fans aren't complaining.
We'll get to see two stalwarts in the welterweight division slog it out for five five-minute rounds inside the octagon and it promises to delight. Why have we not seen anything like this in the past? Dana White himself spoke against having five-round co-main events previously.
In an interview with MMA journalist Aaron Bronsteter last year, White acknowledged that he and UFC matchmakers Sean Shelby and Mick Maynard considered the idea of five-round non-title co-main events. However, he then said that though interesting, the idea didn't seem viable.
White further explained that it would be difficult to pull off five-round non-title co-main events because talented fighters would miss out on featuring on the main card. Most people tune in to watch the main card and it is great exposure for the fighters. A five-round non-title co-main event would mean that one fight would have to be shifted to the prelims in the interest of time.
Well, what caused Dana White and the UFC to shift from that line of thought this time around? Another question that comes to mind is if this is a one-off instance where we will see a five-round non-title co-main event. On that note, let's look into why the UFC chose to introduce a five-round non-title co-main event.
What are the factors behind the introduction of a five-round non-title co-main event at UFC 262?
We'll start by looking at the guys featured in the main event of UFC 262. Both Chandler and Oliveira are phenomenal athletes. They are fighting for the lightweight crown, which was previously owned by Khabib Nurmagomedov. It will be intriguing to see who becomes the new champion and starts a new era in the 155 lbs division.
However, do they have the ability to rake in massive amounts of pay-per-view buys for the promotion just by themselves? Chandler is just one fight old in the UFC, while Oliveira was never known as a crowd puller. This might have forced White to think outside the box and include a five-round non-title co-main event featuring Nate Diaz to generate more interest.
After the likes of Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov, Nate Diaz is one of the most popular stars in the UFC. His polarizing persona adds to the constant hype surrounding him, even amid long periods of inactivity.
This is not the first time that the UFC has gone out of its way to set up a magnum opus bout for Diaz. The last time Diaz fought inside the octagon, the promotion introduced a special one-time-only 'BMF' belt.
There was crazy hype surrounding both the fight between Diaz and Jorge Masvidal and the introduction of a new title. The aggressive marketing surrounding UFC 244 and Diaz's star power translated into big bucks for the promotion.
Keeping in mind Diaz's drawing potential, it's not very surprising that the UFC is affording him a five-round non-title co-main event slot for his octagon return. Diaz knows that the UFC is giving him special treatment. He even took to Twitter to throw some shade at the guys competing in the main event.
Another thing that must be kept in mind is that Leon Edwards got very little octagon time in 2020 due to the coronavirus. He is a top contender in the division and is currently undefeated in his last 9 fights. His most recent fight against Belal Muhammad ended in a no-contest because of an inadvertent eye-poke.
Edwards is a top fighter and he needs more time inside the octagon to remind everyone that he is still a huge threat to Kamaru Usman's title. A five-round slugfest against Nate Diaz is just what the doctor ordered for Edwards.
He now gets to take on one of the biggest stars in the promotion in the historic co-main event of UFC 262. A win could propel him to title contender status and also increase his popularity among fans.
Although Dana White is yet to comment on whether the introduction of a five-round non-title co-main event is a one-time affair, it is definitely a welcome development as far as the fans are concerned.