Should McGregor Wait For Nurmagomedov?
By Jack Rainbow
Conor McGregor dazzled in the Las Vegas lights, finishing Donald Cerrone in 40 dominant seconds at UFC 246.
The typically quick starting striker demolished Cerrone with some beautiful and unorthodox shoulder strikes before landing a clean roundhouse right to the jaw and finished it off with some brutal ground and pound.
The performance was near perfect, the comeback complete. McGregor’s clear focused approach to his training camp showed, and we saw the best version of McGregor that we have seen in quite some time.
McGregor was also fighting at welterweight. By doing this, he opened up a lot of doors to previously unlikely opponents, legitimising that he could compete with Jorge Masvidal, Kamaru Usman or any other contender at the welterweight limit.
This is why I find it baffling that in the post-fight presser Dana White made it clear he believed McGregor should cut down to 155 lbs and fight Khabib Nurmagomedov if he beats Tony Ferguson in the later part of 2020.
McGregor is 1-1 at lightweight and the Russian was absolutely dominant in his defeat of McGregor at UFC 229.
Yet hearing White talk, you would think McGregor’s 170 lb victory shows that he is the rightful next contender, over Justin Gaethje or any other lightweight who has had to cut down and earn their ranking through beating other contenders.
This is not only a dangerous precedent to set in regards to future title challengers but a bad decision for the McGregor comeback
The disrespect that White showed to Ferguson shocked me. White made constant reference to how big Khabib vs McGregor 2 would be later on this year as if Ferguson was not a live opponent in their bout at UFC 249.
Ferguson has incredible jiu-jitsu and is a natural grappler, unlike Dustin Poirer or McGregor. Adding to this his unorthodox striking style makes him no doubt the toughest stylistic match up the Dagestani wrestler has ever faced in his 28-0 career.
White clearly has eyes on the PPV numbers that McGregor and Khabib would generate, and he is right in the sense that on paper this match-up probably brings in the most revenue for the UFC. But not only has McGregor not earned it, but there is also a very real chance that ‘El Cucy’ will scupper all the plans.
The build-up talk for UFC 246 from Team McGregor was that there was a clear plan that 2020 was viewed as a ‘season’.
One of consistent activity. This is what makes White’s wish for McGregor to wait until the latter part of 2020 for Khabib so confusing.
There are really fun fights such as Masvidal and Gaethje which would legitimise McGregor as the number one contender in either weight divisions.
The theme that McGregor gave off in his post-fight presser on Saturday night was that he did not care who the opposition was, just that he had them “lined up.”
White forcing the narrative on the “necessary” rematch with Khabib offers a very high risk of wasting this promised activity for McGregor and scuppering his chances of fighting three times in 2020.
This is without even mentioning Khabib’s clear lack of interest re-facing McGregor making it a diplomatic nightmare.
McGregor has clearly articulated a desire to be very active in 2020, and by beating Cerrone in such a dominant way opened up a plethora of enticing avenues for the UFC to go down. Waiting for Khabib would be the wrong one.