Is Conor McGregor's legacy on the line at UFC 246?
A high stakes clash between Conor McGregor and Donald Cerrone at UFC 246 is more than just a comeback story. There are several subplots in play, so let’s look at what this fight means for each man, beyond the final bell, come Saturday night and beyond.
|Conor McGregor||Donald Cerrone|
McGregor is a heavy favoriteMcGregor should have no problem defeating Cerrone when the two collide this weekend. But what if the unthinkable happens and “Cowboy” somehow topples McGregor to throw a wrench in a handful of UFC mega fights planned for 2020?
For Cerrone it would be the biggest win of his career and would immediately translate to a big-money rematch with McGregor or another lucrative fight, at either lightweight or welterweight. There isn’t much time left for Cerrone, but a win over McGregor would immediately boost his career credentials and echo throughout UFC history.
Win or lose, McGregor will still be a top drawIf Cerrone springs the upset, all eyes will still be on McGregor. In the grand scheme of things, McGregor losing after a long layoff, in a division he is too small for, gives him a built-in excuse but changes little for his endgame.
McGregor off of a loss still makes for better business against other top fighters than a rematch with Cerrone. Regardless of the outcome this weekend, McGregor will fight Jorge Masvidal or get rematch with Khabib Magomedov before the end of the year.
While a fairy-tale upset for Cerrone would be quite a story, the odds are stacked against him, as many believe that an inactive, nearly past-his-prime McGregor is going to wipe him out. A win should ensure that McGregor can still make some noise, but anything less than a dominant victory will raise plenty of eyebrows.
Beating Cowboy won't do much for McGregor's résuméThere isn’t much a win over “Cowboy” will add to McGregor’s credentials, but his performance can give an indication on where he stands, as the talent pool is deeper now than at any point in his career.
As good as McGregor has been, it’s hard to imagine McGregor, even in his prime, having the same sort of success against this crop of elite lightweights and welterweights.
Which weight class will McGregor go to next?Should McGregor return to lightweight, he has the stylistic nightmare tandem of both Justin Gaethje and Magomedov at the top of the weight class. Gaethje would beat McGregor at this point, and McGregor could fight Magomedov 100 times and lose the same way in each bout.
A continued campaign at welterweight reaps the biggest reward in Masvidal, a 50-50 fight at best, and certain lopsided beatings, should he dare face Kamaru Usman or even Leon Edwards down the line. However, if McGregor runs the table at welterweight and defeates those three, there will be no argument—McGregor would be the best fighter in the history of the sport.
There is also the possibility that McGregor can once again manipulate the UFC into giving him the fight he wants, with the circumstances of his choice.
We are about to enter McGregor’s world once again, and it’s going to be one heck of a ride.