It’s that time of year again, time for another Conor comeback. We are now just a few weeks away from McGregor vs Cowboy, which is arguably one of the most interesting fights we’ve had for some time in the UFC – I’m here to tell you just why that is.
For Conor this one puzzles me slightly, this is a high risk, low reward fight and credit to him for taking it, although other options after being inactive and flattened by Khabib were somewhat limited. For McGregor this fight, in gambling terms, is the equivalent of playing heads up poker with a low pot and going all in on queens when there are cowboys (kings) on the table. It’s arguably not a good bet as the upside is limited and the risk is very high, it is a good job that Conor is a gambling man as he stated in his very own Moscow press conference in October as this is very much a gamble.
Donald Cerrone is a great fighter, a fighter’s fighter, a company man, however he doesn’t exactly garner the kind of star power that Conor is bringing to the table. People who follow the UFC know exactly who Cowboy is but your average person on the street will have no idea. If Conor loses to Cowboy at this point it is not like losing to Floyd Mayweather in a boxing match, it isn’t like being taken down and dominated by a man who has done the same to 28 other people. If Conor loses this fight he is losing to someone who has not captured a title in the UFC and is coming off two stoppage losses. If Conor should lose this fight I am not sure how he or the UFC can spin that and let me be clear that while Cowboy is coming off two stoppage losses he is more than capable of winning this fight.
So as we have seen if Conor wants to make good on his predictions in terms of 2020 “going through the division like a chainsaw through butter” he really has to win this fight.
For Cerrone, if he loses this fight what has he really lost? Maybe one could argue that being on a streak of two back-to-back losses he could be in danger of losing his job but I doubt that the UFC would cut Cowboy at this point. If he does leave the UFC it would most likely be by way of retirement, which would be his choice. Really one could make the argument that Cowboy has already won the jackpot, he’s sitting at the table with a great hand – his opponent is all in, but he has him covered twice over with the house’s money.
With a loss Cowboy basically stays where he is, if he wins potentially we are looking at either a title shot or a title eliminator, could we see a last ditch run at the belt? Not many see Cerrone winning a title at this stage in his career, but not many people saw Bisping beating Rockhold at UFC 199 either. Cerrone is already the big winner in this, at the age of 36 fighting in MMA since 2007 (UFC since 2011) he is going to get what will most likely be the biggest payday of his career so far, all the opportunities if he wins and not much to lose… the jackpot.
For more on McGregor and the build up to UFC 246 check my colleague’s article regarding McGregor’s pre-fight claims.
*Information on Cerrone fight record taken from MMA Junkie.