Can McGregor return to winning ways?
January 18th sees the return of the biggest combat star in the world today – “The Notorious” Conor McGregor. The Notorious is facing UFC veteran Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone at UFC 246 in Las Vegas, Nevada in what is the first UFC fight week of the decade. McGregor (21-4) has not been seen in the UFC since his lightweight title defeat in 2018 against arch rival Khabib Nurmagomedov, while Cowboy (36-13) has fought 5 times since then.
Conor McGregor has not won since November 2016, where he defeated Eddie Alvarez by knockout to become the first simultaneous two weight world champion under the UFC banner cementing the Irishman’s place in UFC folklore. Many believe that McGregor is taking the easy fight by fighting against Donald Cerrone due to the fact he has lost his last two fights, but the American holds the record for most UFC wins and most UFC finishes, as well as having the joint-most fights in the UFC. With his 13 losses, 6 have been by knockout whilst McGregor has won 18 of his 21 fights by knockout, so the power of the Irishman is something that could test Cowboy’s chin.
Conor McGregor is 1-1 in the welterweight division with both fights coming against Nate Diaz, with many people citing his fitness and cardio as the reason for his loss. Coach John Kavanagh said “this is the best I’ve ever seen him” ahead of the career defining clash, and with The Notorious himself speaking about his physical state and head space being in top condition there can be no expectation of him having the same fitness issues in the 170-pound division. Conor has said 2020 is a “season” for him and a huge win on January 18th will see that season kick-started.
What does Conor McGregor’s 2020 “season” look like?
Towards the end of 2019, McGregor toured Russia and during a press conference, announced his return fight and said he would be looking at 2020 as a “season” with at least three fights. McGregor has been inactive since the Khabib loss, but in that time, he has had many different fighters call him out including former lightweight title contender Dustin Poirier and Tony Ferguson however it appears McGregor will be able to decide who he fights next. Should he get past Donald Cerrone, the former two-weight champion may fight Justin Gaethje, someone who has consistently called for the McGregor fight and is a fight that many of McGregor’s team feel is a very good match up stylistically. This may be the most likely second fight for McGregor, however the UFC could very well look at this fight and see no real gain for the company.
A huge superfight would see McGregor vs Jorge Masvidal, who most recently finished Nate Diaz, something the Irishman has failed to do on two occasions. Masvidal has said he would “love to break McGregor’s face”, and the Dublin native may give Jorge the opportunity to step into the Octagon to try his luck.
The aim for McGregor this year is consistency and to end the year with a belt whether that be the lightweight belt and conclude his rivalry with Khabib, or the welterweight belt which would make him the first ever three division world champion ever if he were to beat Kamaru Usman. This talk of even more history could be irrelevant however, should Conor lose to Cowboy this weekend.
“They say I’m toast, but I’m still the bread” – Is The Notorious still the top dog?
Donald Cerrone may hold the record for most wins in the UFC, but McGregor is the money-making machine with 5 of the top 6 highest PPV buys in UFC history belonging to him. Many people may question his opinion that he is the best fighter in the world, nobody can argue that he is still “the bread” as he referred to himself in an interview with Ariel Helwani. UFC pay-per-views being headlined by non-title matches is rare, but this will be the third time Conor McGregor has main-evented a UFC pay-per-view event with no gold being on the line and if that does not show the draw Conor McGregor has, nothing will. He has set the standard and has earned the title of being “the money fight”, and his figures will continue to rise for as long as he gets back to the top of the fighting tree.
For his boxing bout against Floyd Mayweather, McGregor made $100 million and saw himself sit in fourth place on the Forbes Richest Athletes list. During his interview with Helwani, he said he expected to make in upwards of $80 million and if he does complete his season, he will sit top of the Forbes list. There has been doubts about his stardom and his popularity after a plethora of criminal activity with people with “insights” into the business saying his influence is shrinking. UFC President Dana White has said these people know nothing, and that Conor is pulling a $10.7 million gate. Conor McGregor said he aims to be a billionaire within the next 3 years and if the Proper Twelve Whiskey owner starts this revival against Cowboy, the big money fights will come pouring in.
How can I watch UFC 246 on Saturday night?
UFC 246 is being broadcast live from Las Vegas on BT Sport Box Office from 3am with the main event (McGregor vs Cerrone) starting at 6am. There are also prelims which will get underway from around 11:30pm.
There are 29 We Love Sport venues showing the event which you can locate your nearest via the We Love Sport app and guarantee your place by the booking front row seats.