Conor McGregor will make his long-awaited comeback on January 18th at UFC 246. The lay of the land is that this will be the best version of Conor that we have ever seen. That kind of talk has come from striking coach Owen Roddy, as well as head coach John Kavanagh. They have been sure to mention that training camp feels fun again and that it’s great to have Conor back and fully focused. The UFC doctors have also made a point to mention that they believe this is the best version they have ever seen him.
Despite all this talk, is the MMA nation really going to see the best version of Conor McGregor against Donald Cerrone? McGregor has not fought since losing to Khabib Nurmagomedov, leaving some ring rust to factor into the equation. His last UFC win was way back in 2016, where he claimed the lightweight title from former champion Eddie Alvarez. Another big note on Conor’s return is that it is happening in the welterweight division. Weighing in at 170lbs, McGregor looks as jacked heading into fight week to start his “season.” However, many people, including fighters of all kinds, have said this will take a toll on your cardio. As many MMA followers know, the McGregor cardio game isn’t the best in the world, to put it rather lightly.
Conor McGregor has taken his talents to the welterweight division before, however, winning one out of the two. Both fights were against Stockton’s finest Nate Diaz, in what would turn out to be one of the most biggest UFC rivalries of all time. The first fight ended via submission from a rear-naked choke performed by Diaz. McGregor would have his revenge later that year on Nate, as he won a split decision in a war. Conor had clearly been tired out coming into the later rounds of both welterweight fights. His hands moved slower, thus leaving Diaz room to work and deal damage to Conor. It’s leaving some to wonder, will the same happen against Cerrone? There is so much speculation surrounding McGregor’s return, as with all his fights in fact. I’m going to breakdown how I see Conor returning, and which version we’ll get.
I believe I’m speaking for all MMA fans when saying if Conor is at his best its a thing to behold. That is exactly how the 2014, 2015, and 2016 versions of him made me feel. Strictly as a fan of the game, who wouldn’t want to see a fully focused and committed Conor McGregor? The talk of McGregor being at his best can be taken either way, however viewing his interviews, this truly feels like the Conor who is all-in this time. A crucial piece of information I took away is that he called 2020 a “season” for his team. This infers that Conor really wants to revamp his career and look to become an active fighter again. Which is great for him as a person and sure to produce some more memorable moments.
Now for the fight aspect of the whole equation, can McGregor defeat Cowboy to open up 2020? In order to do this, I, as many others do, feel like he has to in the first two rounds. Being inactive from a professional and real UFC fight is going to play a role in cardio. Not to mention the new weight Conor will be fighting at, I see this as a problem for Mystic Mac. Donald Cerrone is very tough and experienced, as proved by his records. If, and that’s a huge if, he can survive through the first rounds of this fight, a finish is very possible for Cowboy. With that being said, Conor, I believe, has too much power for Cerrone which will lead to an early victory.
An early victory for McGregor should count as the best version right, not the way I see it. Flaws will be evident in his game due to inactivity. But after the predicted win, McGregor will have a chance to build upon his return and reach his best version by the end of his “season”.
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