Fightweets: What if Conor McGregor falls flat?

Esther Lin

Ready or not, the MMA schedule is about to pick up.

Saturday's UFC Fight Night in Cincinnati kicks off a head-spinning stretch of fights, which includes the May 17 Bellator pay-pay-per view card; UFC 174 on Memorial Day weekend; a pair of UFC events halfway around the world on May 31, then right on into June and leading up to Fourth of July.

It's enough to satisfy even the most voracious fan's cravings ... and it is enough to provide ample fodder for conversation. In fact, we don't even have to wait for the deluge to start. Let's get right into anther edition of Fightweets, then.

What if Conor McGregor fails?

@Auggie85: What happens if Connor loses to Miller in decisive fashion? Can he rebound from that?

Given McGregor's potential as a breakout star, these are the million-dollar questions.

The UFC is going all in by placing McGregor in the main event of the July 19 card in Dublin. The pressure on McGregor will be enormous: He's fighting in his hometown, in the main event, after a year off due to a serious knee injury.

Oh, and, boy the way, he's doing it against by far his toughest opponent. If McGregor can keep the fight against Cole Miller standing, he can win. Just look at the way Nam Phan was able to neutralize Miller's size and reach advantage, and you have yourself a blueprint.

But if Miller, one of the craftier ground guys in the biz, gets McGregor to the ground? Better say a prayer to St. Patrick. McGregor's two losses were submissions to Artemj Sitenkov (career record 15-11) and Joseph Duffy (best known for losing a get-into-the-TUF-house fight on the GSP vs. Koscheck season premiere). Granted, the Duffy loss in 2008, and it's not like McGregor hasn't improved by leaps and bounds since. But it's not like he's been knocking off ADCC medalists in the interim, either.

If McGregor wins? Then it's on. Full-steam-ahead stardom, the type of attraction the sub-lightweight classes have been lacking for so long. Fighters who draw a crowd because half the people love him and the other half hate him are worth their weight in gold.

But if McGregor suffers a bad loss? Like, say, Miller smothers him on the ground for 15 minutes and McGregor can't do anything about it? Well, remember the hype Houston Alexander had coming off his quick knockout of Keith Jardine? And how fast that ended once Alexander's weaknesses were exposed? Multiply that by about 1,000.

Fight Pass PPVs?

@PhillieMills: With UFC ppv #s slowly declining, do you think they follow the WWE network and show live PPVs to its FP members?

I think we're talking apples and oranges a little bit, here. The WWE made its move because their PPV numbers, outside of Wrestlemania, have dropped off in a major way over a period of several years and -- this is an overlooked point -- the WWE is a publicly traded company and is under Wall Street's gun to produce satisfactory numbers every quarter.

UFC isn't under that pressure (Do you think Zuffa would have lasted long enough to go $44 million in the hole if the Fertittas had to answer to the people who nearly destroyed our economy with their shortsightedness?). Yes, Zuffa is going through a bit of a thin year after losing several major draws and losing several others to injuries. But the fact that recent stretch of fights, with Ronda Rousey and Jon Jones both taking on opponents with zero history as draws, and the Johny Hendricks-Robbie Lawler title fight, all drew in the 300,000-350,000 buy range shows that PPV isn't exactly dead, even if those numbers can't be called home runs.

Things have the potential to pick up in the second half of the year: You've got the stacked UFC 175 over Fouth of July weekend; the Jones-Alexander Gustafsson rematch; Cain Velasquez's return; presumably a Rousey fight against a real draw, whether it be Gina Carano or Holly Holm; and a potential Anderson Silva return.

That's not to say things will never change in terms of the business model. This is a monkey-see, monkey-do business, and whether any of them the care to admit it, MMA, wrestling, and boxing all borrow business ideas that work from one another. If the WWE model is a runaway success, sure, UFC will give it a look. But WWE went there out of desperation, after years and years of decline.

UFC isn't there yet, and given their FOX network money, aren't likely to anytime soon. I would expect Fight Pass to stay what it was intended as, an ancillary product for the hardest-core fans.

Rumble vs. Li'l Nog

@maceseyebrows: Anthony Johnson vs Big Nog? wtf how does that fight make any sense?!

Well, it's Li'l Nog, not Big Nog, but for the sake of discussion here I'll assume you meant Antonio Rogerio Nogueira.

Let's break down the potential, viable opponents for Rumble at the moment. Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson are already intertwined. Daniel Cormer and Dan Henderson are fighting in a couple weeks. Nothing besides a title shot makes sense for DC if he wins. Rashad Evans is in the middle of a long injury rehab, and is a fellow Blackzilian besides. Glover Teixeira isn't going to be in fighting shape again for awhile after going 25 minutes with Jones.

That's everyone ranked ahead of Johnson, who is No. 6 in the current SB Nation 205 poll, plus Henderson, who is accounted for. Looking below him? No sense rematching with Phil Davis, and Chael Sonnen and Ryan Bader have opponents. That pretty much leaves us with Nogueira. Is he the ideal opponent if you're looking to build Johnson's momentum coming off his beatdown of Davis? No. But sometimes you have to make the best of the hand you've been dealt. In this case, Rumble wants to stay active; the fight is slated for UFC on FOX in San Jose, which gives them a chance to showcase a hot new contender on network TV, and Nog is the most credible name available.

@chjobin: What should the UFC do with Lil Nog if he pulls out of another fight other than rename him "Lol Nog"?

I think you should walk into your nearest Nogueira Brothers gym and tell them your new nickname for Rogerio, then report back to us on which limb of yours got snapped.

Fabio's big gamble

@dpop2: I thought Maldonado was a smallish lhw is taking a fight at hw really the best career choice?

I get what you're saying, but in some ways, this is probably his best career choice. I mean, look at it from his long-term perspective: Maldonado is 34. He's been in the UFC for four years and has only been on one UFC pay-per-view event in his past six fights. At some point, you have to make your move and take an opportunity when it presents itself. If he loses, he can always go right back to light heavyweight, where he's on a three-fight win streak. He stepped up and saved a main event when the UFC needed it and he already fights in the sort of style his boss approves of. If he wins, though highly unlikely, he becomes a star in Brazil, where he's already a respected name on the card.

Of course, all this glosses over the fact that he could very well take a beating from a much larger man and whether this fight should have be made at all. But I understand why Maldonado would accept the bout.

The Immortal One

@Paperboy_ca (and several others with similar questions): What's next for Matt Brown if he gets his 7th in a row on Saturday?

A top-five opponent, hopefully. A win over Erick Silva obviously won't mean as much as one over Carlos Condit would have. I can't blame Brown for jumping on the opportunity to fight in his home town. But this is welterweight, not a division like bantamweight where the ranks are so thin that a solid win streak in and of itself is enough to propel you to a title shot. There are killers ahead of Brown in the pecking order, and he's going to need to defeat at least one of them to get his title shot, no matter how many lower-tier guys he's mangled along the way.

End of the road for HD?

@thecanEHdiankid: Do you think it's time for Pat Barry to hang up the gloves. At least for the short term?

When Pat Barry went back to kickboxing, my first thought was "good for him." It's long been clear he's a striker first and the ground stuff was simply something he had to learn if he wanted to make it in MMA, as opposed to a passion.

But after seeing him get knocked out in Glory last weekend? Well, I think he's crossed that line where you simply don't want to see someone get beat up anymore, especially when it's someone you know is a good dude. Barry's now been finished in the first round of four of his past five combat sports matches. His past three MMA KOs weren't exactly to real contenders. As always, retirement is the fighter's choice choice, but boy, do I hope he makes the right one.

The Maaaaaaaaaine-iac!

@dpop2: ooooo does the Maine fight mark the return of Tim Sylvia?  Lol!!

Poor Tim. I'm kind of hoping the UFC signs him for this summer's Bangor card, if only to spare us the sight of "The Maine-iac" sitting in the front row all night, directly in front of the camera, pouting, with his UFC belt propped over his shoulder since it doesn't fit around his waist anymore. Do it, UFC, even if you have to book your first super heavyweight fight. I'd rather watch him on Fight Pass for a couple minutes than have him stare at us frowning all night long.

Got a question for a future edition of Fightweets? Go to my Twitter page and leave me a tweet.

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