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The Return of Conor McGregor

Ben Knape

It’s been nearly a year and a half since the last time ‘The Notorious’ Conor McGregor fought in the UFC, last suffering a devastating loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov back in October of 2018. Losing to Khabib, and taking part in a post-fight brawl with Nurmagomedov’s team opened the floodgates for thousands of McGregor haters to surface, calling him names like “McTapper”. McGregor’s return has been shrouded with doubt; doubt in his skill, his love for the sport, and his work ethic. His couple run-ins with the law furthered the narrative that he’d gone off the rails.

Enter Cowboy Cerrone. Cerrone is one of the biggest names in mixed martial arts, and is coming off of two tough losses to Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje. With Conor in need of a big fight to show people he’s still got it, and Cowboy hoping to prove himself still a top contender following the two losses; the matchup makes great sense.

The two will face off this Saturday in the main event of UFC 246 with the bout taking place in the welterweight division (170lbs). Both fighters agreed to take the fight at 170 despite the fact that they are both primarily lightweight contenders (155lbs). McGregor has stated that he feels phenomenal at 170 pounds, as it’s his natural weight, and considering issues he’s had with weight cuts in the past, it makes sense. Cowboy is in the same boat as Conor and won’t have to cut weight for the fight, keeping both fighters out of the saunas and in the gym.

Stylistically this is a really exciting fight. Cowboy is known for his ferocious combinations, often ending slews of punches with one of his incredibly powerful low or high kicks. Cerrone’s kicks have sent the likes of Matt Brown, Alexander Hernandez, and Jim Miller to sleep and that’s a weapon he is going to need to use in this fight. Cowboy also has some underrated ground game, finishing 17 of his 36 wins by submission. Conor will want to stay off the mats in this one, especially after losing his last match to Khabib via a neck crank. McGregor should instead look to keep this fight on the feet; he has one of the most powerful left hands in the sport and some crisp boxing skills. A huge factor in this fight is if Cowboy can come out of the gates swinging. In a large majority of his fights, Cowboy has liked to get a feel for his opponent before he picks up the pace in later rounds. Conor McGregor is one of the most vicious first-round fighters of all time, seeing 13 of his 21 wins ended in a first-round knockout, so there won’t be any time for Cerrone to test the waters. In an interview with Ariel Helwani, two-time UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz suggested that Cerrone gets a round of sparring in right before he enters the cage, to ensure that he’s warmed up.

The fight marks the first main event of the decade for the UFC and any card with Conor McGregor on it is sure to do big numbers. McGregor is guaranteed $5 million USD for the fight and Cerrone will bring in $2 million himself, this, of course, is before any sponsorships or fight bonus.

McGregor’s return is sure to be exciting, and any unanswered questions about his state of mind and career as a fighter will be answered come Saturday. Enjoy the fights.

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