Holly Holm and Conor McGregor will be the headline bouts at UFC 197, a pay-per-view event to be held March 5 in Las Vegas, ABC News is reporting.
Multiple sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, have confirmed the fights to the media, although UFC has yet to make an official announcement as of this writing, and none of the fighters have signed contracts.
Holly Holm (10-0), who became the women’s bantamweight champion after a stunning upset over then-champion Ronda Rousey in November, will fight Miesha Tate (17-5).
Featherweight champion Conor McGregor (19-2) is moving up a weight class and will compete in the 155-pound division, taking on Rafael dos Anjos (25-7).
Speaking Wednesday night on Fox Sports 1’s UFC Tonight, UFC President Dana White confirmed that Holly Holm would participate in at least one more match before a hotly-anticipated rematch with Ronda Rousey. At the time, according to this Inquisitr report, he gave few details about Holm’s opponent or when or where the match would take place.
After news of White’s announcement broke, sports writers, such as Yahoo Sports’ Kevin Iole, began to speculate on who would join Holm in the Octagon for the bout. And that speculation mostly centered around Miesha Tate.
As Iole notes, a Holm-Tate match brings with it a lot of risk to UFC. If Tate were to win, she would be the next legitimate contender to face Rousey for a title rematch, not Holm. That could spell doom for the UFC’s hopes for a huge payday if and when Holm and Rousey do enter the Octagon together.
“If Holm successfully defends the title, then she could move into a rematch with Rousey that will be massive. If she loses, however, it would take significantly away from the rematch. Rousey-Holm II will be big under any circumstance, but it would have the potential to be record-setting if Holm goes in as the undefeated champion.”
Miesha Tate, meanwhile, is coming off of a four-bout winning streak. According to ABC News, Tate was promised a title match against Rousey in 2014, but UFC reneged on that offer and instead gave the opportunity to Holly Holm. She hasn’t fought since July, when she beat Jessica Eye.
The other big fight of UFC 197, after Holm-Tate, is the Conor McGregor-Rafael dos Anjos matchup. In McGregor’s last match, he knocked out Jose Aldo in 13 seconds to take the UFC 145 pound title at UFC 194 earlier this month. If he can beat dos Anjos in the 155 pound weight class, he would be the third UFC fighter to win championships in separate weight classes.
Dos Anjos is also coming off of a recent knockout victory, knocking out Donald Cerrone in 66 seconds on December 19.
Looking beyond UFC 197, Ultimate Fighting Championship is still hoping to get Holly Holm and Ronda Rousey into the Octagon together at some point in the future. Already, the league is planning a lavish, no-holds-barred spectacular for UFC 200, and if Holm survives Tate and Rousey is back to form by then, a Holm-Rousey rematch makes perfect sense for UFC 200.
Rousey, meanwhile, is recovering from the beating she took from Holly Holm back in November. Rousey required plastic surgery on her lip and was given a six-month medical exemption from fighting. Since losing to Holm, Rousey has largely kept quiet, although she’s scheduled to host Saturday Night Live on January 23 and may have some things to say at that time.
UFC 197, featuring Holly Holm and Conor McGregor in the headline matches, will take place March 5 in Las Vegas, at either the MGM Grand or Mandalay Bay.
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