The Notorious One returns from a 9-figure boxing payday to take on Cowboy.
Conor Mcgregor is back.
The Notorious One returns from a 9-figure boxing payday to take on Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone, the winning-est fighter in the UFC, with the most finishes to boot.
Many Conor fans think it’ll be a walk in the park.
“Cowboy’s just a warmup for Conor!”
“Nobody can take that left-hand shot.”
“2020 is the McGregor season.”
These aren’t just casual fans either. Many of my personal friends from the gym have Conor down as a heavy favourite.
And I don’t blame them.
This is a man who revolutionized the MMA game. The first-ever fighter to hold two UFC titles simultaneously, and the only MMA fighter to cross over to boxing and give one of the pound-for-pound greats an entertaining fight (earning obscene millions in the process.)
Conor’s list of accomplishments stand for themselves.
However, I think far too many people are looking past Cowboy.
In fact, I think this has all the makings of a Conor vs Diaz II, a bloody dogfight where both men are forced to dig deep for the win.
I think a huge upset might even be possible.
Here are 3 reasons why.
It’s Contested At Welterweight
There’s a good reason why this bout is being held at 170 pounds, and the biggest one is because the UFC wants to hedge their bets.
Let me explain.
Should Conor lose, the UFC matchmakers can brush it off as a fluke, like they did with Conor Diaz I.
Conor got strangled by Diaz, beat him by a narrow margin in the rematch, then went on to challenge for (and win) the Lightweight belt.
A similar situation could play out here.
Should Conor, touch wood, get head kicked in the first round by Cowboy, the UFC could have him win a tune-up fight and use that to justify the Khabib rematch.
Should Conor win then the possibilities are endless.
He could challenge right away for the Lightweight title (again), or fight any amount of Welterweight contenders.
Diaz 3 and the Masvidal BMF title fight are the ones that come to mind.
Whoever controls the narrative controls the world
The UFC are masters at marketing and fight promotion, and they know this better than anybody.
And while we’re at the topic of weight, let me segway into my next point…
Conor’s Style Runs Into Problems Against Taller & Bigger Opponents
I don’t mean this as a knock against Mystic Mac at all.
I personally love his style, and I shamelessly incorporate many elements of his game into mine.
His back-stepping counter cross and his rear leg snap kick are some of my favourite weapons against shorter opponents.
And that’s the problem.
Many aspects of his game centres around countering shorter guys.
Conor and I are both tall for our respective divisions.
He cut his teeth fighting at Featherweight, where he towered over the opposition.
He could pull back, make them miss, and explode a counter onto their chins while they chase his elusive bearded mug.
It’s a very, very powerful game when you have a height and reach advantage — it works less well when you don’t.
It was the most evident in Diaz vs McGregor I.
Conor the counter-puncher himself got countered with check hooks and stunned on the outside with long straight punches, eventually leading to the upset.
Now, Cowboy doesn’t quite have the style Diaz has (no one outside of a Diaz brother has them, that’s why they’re so popular) but he does have certain elements in his game that might cause Conor a lot of grief.
Cowboy Has Unique Attributes That May Foil Conor’s Game
Outside of being taller and bigger, Cowboy has several traits that has the potential to make this a long night for The Notorious One.
For one, never in recent memory has Cowboy Cerrone been knocked out cold.
Cowboy is weak to the body, something that many of his opponents have exploited.
Conor has never been a big body puncher — he sprinkles them in like confetti, but his main game has always been the counter left over the top, already made more difficult by Cowboy’s height and reach.
The only time Cowboy has been stopped by somebody with a similar style is against Darren Till.
Till however, is an extremely big Welterweight.
So much so that he’s moved up a weight division.
Conor is a former Featherweight jumping up 3 weight divisions.
Cowboy Has More Weapons
This is something that not many people are talking about, and it perplexes me.
Conor pretty much has one way he prefers to win— the left “touch of death.”
Cowboy has a notable kickboxing and submission game.
Cowboy also has a whopping 17 career wins by submission — he actually has more submission victories than knockouts.
Tellingly enough, many of them were triangles and armlocks from the guard, a position that Conor was leery to engage in even after knocking Diaz down multiple times in their rematch.
On the striking department, Cowboy has 2 nasty weapons that will prove vital against Conor: his right high kick and his intercepting knee.
Both are devastating weapons against southpaw fighters, and even though the former is the flashier of the lot, the latter might be an actual game-changer against the Irish superstar.
Conor likes to pressure his opponents right from the opening bell and time counters off hurried punches.
The right intercepting knee to the gut kills all forward pressure. Timed properly, it’ll get McGregor to lay back long enough for Cowboy to get his kickboxing going.
This fight could go one of three ways.
- What the fans and UFC brass wishes for comes true. Conor catches the infamously slow-starting Cowboy flush with a left and knocks him out in the first 1 or 2 rounds. Queue the Khabib megafight.
- Conor doesn’t finish the fight by the 2nd, and the tide turns to Cowboys favour. The fight goes back and forth, reminiscent of Conor Diaz II, and both men earn Fight of the Night honours.
- Conor gets winded by Cowboy’s knees coming in. He gasses out and stays on the outside to compose himself, only to eat a headkick, ala Rousey vs Holm. Cowboy finishes him on the ground via strikes or a submission, and we have our first upset of the decade! Dana White cries.
Call me crazy, but I think #3 is very much possible — Conor is also acting a tad bit too respectfully against Cowboy for my liking.
I know this isn’t saying much.
My main point is, I think people are looking past Cowboy far too much.
He’s the most seasoned veteran of all, and he brings several weapons and unique attributes to the table.
Or maybe what everyone thinks will happen will come to pass, and it’ll be another first-round KO for the biggest star MMA has ever seen.
Either way, the fans win.
And isn’t that what fighting is all about?
Thank you for reading my story :)