Conor McGregor is back in action on January 19 (AEDT) when he faces Donald Cerrone on the top of UFC 246 fight card. “The Notorious” steps inside the Octagon for the first time in more than a year, after he lost by submission in the fourth round against Khabib Nurmagomedov in the lightweight title fight.
In fact, the upcoming fight against Cerrone is the second return McGregor makes to MMA. His fight against Nurmagomedov in October 2018 was his first appearance inside the cage since November 2016, when he stopped Eddie Alvarez in the second round to become two-division champion (featherweight and lightweight).
During that gap, in August 2017 McGregor went up against Floyd Mayweather Jr. in a boxing match. The latter took the win via tenth-round stoppage.
In summary Conor McGregor hasn’t won an MMA bout since November 2016, yet he is promised a potential lightweight championship rematch against Nurmagomedov if he beats Cerrone. Nurmagomedov, meanwhile, is scheduled to defend his belt against Tony Ferguson in April. He also stated he had no interest in facing McGregor in the rematch unless his wins ten fights in a row.
Regardless almost a two-year gap after his fight against Alvarez, McGregor got a shot at the title in October 2018. It was all quite good on paper – he was a former champion, and was only stripped off the title due to inactivity (he didn’t lose the belt in a fight).
Yet, McGregor failed the first attempt to regain the crown. The second one looks a bit more complicated. However, here comes the smartness.
All McGregor needs to be really back is to beat Cerrone. In one of the recent interviews UFC President Dana White said that at this point of his career a win is a must. Indeed.
UFC 246: Conor McGregor returns against Donald Cerrone
McGregor vs. Cerrone is a welterweight bout, so it is much less stress for the body. The competitors won’t really need to cut weight. Those who ever fought and cut weight are well familiar with dehydration, fatigue, muscle soreness, etc that comes with it.
Donald Cerrone (36-13, 1 NC), as an opponent, doesn’t look bad. The 36-years-old is an experienced fighter, who has 50 MMA bouts recorded since mid 2000s. Before that he competed in kickboxing and boxing, which again makes him look good. He also challenged for UFC lightweight title against then champion Rafael dos Anjos, but lost the fight via TKO 66 seconds into the first round.
Yet, from experience, when it comes to over 35, age and “old school” of fighting can in fact play against you, unless you are a phenom like Georges St-Pierre or Muay Thai stars Saenchai or Buakaw, for example. But there are only a few out there. With no disrespect, Cerrone hasn’t really been named one.
Personally I don’t see him winning in a stand up striking game against McGregor. Some even suggested that Cerrone was being paid to lose, which he denied. He, however, certainly has a chance to win, since a fight is a fight, and anything can happen. He is also a Black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, winning seventeen fights by submission.
In comparison with another super star, Ronda Rousey’s return after she was KO’d by Holly Holm in November 2015, Conor Mcgregor’s return is quite different.
Rousey returned in a year time. After suffering the defeat, instead of facing someone in the rankings, she straight away went up against the defending (and still current) women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes, who stopped her in the first round.
A similar scenario was in Joanna Jedrzejczyk’s immediate strawweight championship rematch against Rose Namajunas. She was KO’d and lost the title in the opening round of their first fight, and dropped a unanimous decision in the second.
So, what McGregor has scheduled is indeed smart. Well, not that Nurmagomedov gives him a luxury of an immediate rematch either, that he would likely want.
To summarize, all McGregor needs is a win, and if he defeats Cerrone, he will again look quite good on paper. It could read “former two-weight champion made a successful return against a strong vet after more than a year of layoff and is looking to regain the title”. As a result, it would also look good enough to sell and call Nurmagomedov out for a rematch.
Hate it or love it, Conor McGregor is also a mixed martial arts super star. The promotion also seems to want it, Khabib vs. Conor 2.
To date Conor McGregor lost four times in MMA, and only twice in the UFC. One of the losses he has already avenged by majority decision against Nate Diaz. The second one is yet to be fixed, which was his first encounter with Nurmagomedov. McGregor is certainly looking for it.