Surprise surprise motherf*ckers, the King is back!
Fifteen months after falling short against Khabib Nurmagomedov in an attempt to reclaim his lightweight title, the most popular fighter in UFC history returns. Despite his lack of action inside the cage, Conor McGregor has still been all over the headlines. There was the post-UFC 229 brawl with Khabib and his team, an arrest for stealing and smashing a fan’s phone and punching an old man in a bar in Dublin amongst other allegations. To be honest, it’s nice to see him back in the headlines for the right reasons and hopefully, we do see multiple fights for McGregor in 2020.
The man fortunate enough to welcome Conor back will be Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone. Cowboy has been a long-time fan-favourite with UFC faithful due to his famed thrill-seeking and carefree personality. A lot of fighters say they will fight anyone anytime but Cowboy means it. He is famed for fighting multiple times a year to fund his adrenaline junkie life outside the cage. With 50 overall fights and 33 in the UFC, Cowboy holds the record for most wins, most finishes and most performance bonuses in the UFC. Quite a resume.
While the two have been respectful and well-mannered to one another in the lead-up, there is history dating back to 2015 in the below clip and being a McGregor fight you can expect the trash-talking to pick up sooner rather than later.
How the Fight plays out
Given McGregor hasn’t won a fight since November 2016 and the drama that surrounds him, it is easy to forget just how good he is. You don’t become a simultaneous 2 weight world champion without being highly elite and McGregor’s footwork, timing and left hand are as good as it gets.
On paper this looks like the perfect return fight for McGregor. Cowboy has developed a bit of a reputation as a slow starter after getting caught and finished early multiple times, while McGregor is well known for his quick KOs. Conor likes to be the aggressor, push the pace and make his opponents fight backwards which is something Cowboy struggled with in fights against Till, Masvidal, Dos Anjos and Gaethje. Cowboy is well rounded with solid wrestling and high-level submissions, but both he and McGregor have stated they expect a stand-up war which plays perfectly into the hands of McGregor.
Despite the above there are several question marks around McGregor that remove this from being a straight forward walk in the park;
- Conor hasn’t fought in 15 months whereas Cowboy is always active
- Conor has shown a tendency to gas
- The fight is at welterweight which should favour Cerrone and reduce the chance of a McGregor KO
- McGregor has shown weaknesses on the mat, Cerrone has 17 wins by submission
If Conor is unable to get his patented early knockout, the momentum of the fight could change very quickly into Cowboy’s favour.
Given the above points it’s hard to be confident betting directly into McGregor at his current short price, however, I still believe there’s enough value in his early KO prices.
McGregor KO Round 1