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Fightweets: Is Conor McGregor vs. Donald Cerrone the fight to make?

UFC ‘Go Big’ press conference photos
Is Conor McGregor vs. Donald Cerrone the next big fight to make?
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

A new week, a new UFC card, a new scary weigh-in video, and maybe a new Conor McGregor fight. Just another week in MMA, in other words. So without further ado, let’s get into another edition of Fightweets ...

Conor vs. Cowboy?

@Woolman7242: Why would Conor take a fight with Cowboy? It’s a dangerous matchup outside of the top five and isn’t a typical PPV headliner because it would not be for a title. Also, is it even worth discussing right now given the likely suspension?

I wouldn’t worry too much about the Nevada Athletic Commission. They’re not going to kill the golden goose. When it comes time for the commission to hand out their final punishments for the aftermath of the UFC 229 bout between McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov, they’ll no doubt find that sweet spot that makes it come off like they’re being tough, while also not being so tough that either fighter decides to take off for other states.

And with that in mind? I really like the idea of McGregor vs. Cerrone. Despite what his most hardcore admirers might think, McGregor’s drawing power isn’t going to be bullet-proof He’s gotten a lot slack over the years by basically being the anti-Ronda: When he loses, he doesn’t run and hide, but rather insists on getting right back out there and throwing himself into bigger and bolder challenges than ever before.

That’s the sort of thinking that fueled his rise to becoming the first simultaneous champ-champ in UFC history, and also willed what seemed to be ridiculous talk about a boxing match with Floyd Mayweather into existence and then into a nine-figure payday. It also made people believe he’d defeat a beast like Nurmagomedov despite being away from MMA for nearly two years.

But it didn’t work out that way. The way things stand now, McGregor has lost in one-sided fashion in each of his two biggest fights, to Floyd and Khabib. If he doesn’t want the casual masses — the ones who might be persuaded into trying Proper No. Twelve — to jump off the bandwagon, he’s going to need to remind people sooner or later why he made it to the top in the first place.

After biting off a bit more than he could chew in trying to take on Nurmagomedov after nearly two years away from MMA, McGregor clearly needs to take a step back in the level of ranked competition if he’s going to take two steps forward.

A fight with Cerrone seems to fit the bill. It’s an exciting style matchup that would play to McGregor’s strengths. Cerrone is popular, has his own fan following, and is able to hold up his end of the bargain promotionally. And there’s a built-in beef from their press conference dust-up in 2015, where Cerrone told McGregor he wouldn’t last at lightweight, not long before McGregor went on to claim both the lightweight and featherweight belts.

There’s also the fact that Cerrone could very well win this fight, which gives makes it a risky proposition for McGregor. But if this is going to be a McGregor-sized fight, it needs to have real stakes. A tuneup against the bum of the month just for the sake of getting Conor a win won’t move the masses at this point. A sellable, competitive fight against a popular opponent with whom he has a bit of an issue is another matter entirely.

Upcoming big fights

@cking66: Of the new fights announced or “looking to be booked,” what one are you most looking forward to?

I mean, I just laid out why I like the Conor-Cowboy fight, but there’s something pretty great about the discussed Justin Gaethje-Anthony Pettis fight, which is being targeted for next year, isn’t there? Pettis isn’t quite the fighter he was at his highest point, but that’s okay. “Showtime” has shown plenty of his old spirit in both his win over Michael Chiesa and subsequent loss to Tony Ferguson.

Pettis could go on a fun fight, bonus-chasing path from here. And Gaethje is The Bonus King. All on it’s own, the fireworks that could come out of this fight makes it a tantalizing prospect.

But then, there’s this: The winner would come out of this with a good bit of momentum. If Gaethje defeats Pettis, he’s got a win over a former champ on his resume right after his memorable knockout of James Vick. And if Pettis wins, he’s got two wins out of three sandwiched around an exciting fight with Ferguson. So the bout could be wild fun and have real consequences at 155 pounds. Sign me up.

Calvillo’s weight cut

@liamhappe: Heard anything on the latest hideous cutting incident yet?

You mean on a nearly-passed-out Cynthia Calvillo gingerly walking up to the scale for her weigh-in for Saturday’s UFC Argentina bout with Poliana Botelho, looking more like an inebriated person pulled over by the cops who is trying to convince the police that they’re sober than a professional fighter who is going to fight another professional fighter the next day, and then coming up two pounds over?

Yes, I did hear. It was pretty scary looking. You can see it here if you haven’t yet.

Beyond that, I’m not sure what to say anymore. I feel like I’ve lost count of the number of times over the past year or two I’ve woken up on Friday morning, seen a bad weigh-in scene like this, and written a fresh new rant about the topic. And I’m not sure what to add to this as the typical finger-pointing and blaming that inevitably gets done when these situations play out.

Feel free to convince me otherwise, but it appears that nothing changes from week to week and month to month on the weight-cutting front, and I’ve become more and more convinced that, just like college wrestling experienced two decades ago, it’s going to take a death on a UFC weigh-in day to effect any sort of legitimate change.

Late bloomers

@chinmaybhogle: What fighters do you look at and go ‘I wish they’d begun competing in MMA sooner’? My picks are Romero, Lesnar and Cormier.

Oh man. Great question for a slow-ish week. The thing with Brock Lesnar is, the timing worked out absolutely perfectly with his career. He was the 2000 NCAA wrestling champion at the University of Minnesota. At that time, going into pro wrestling was an absolute no-brainer decision. Sure, he might have gotten a nice paycheck from PRIDE because of his credentials, but the UFC was considered all but dead at the time, and most importantly, this was the absolute heyday of the WWE, with Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, and all doing their biggest business. WWE is where the money was at the time.

Lesnar might have been every bit as good as he ended up being in the UFC, had he come straight out of college wrestling. But becoming a huge money star in the WWE and then crossing over to the UFC when the UFC was peaking in popularity meant way more for Lesnar’s bank account than he ever would have made had he gone and fought in, say, Lake Charles, Louisiana back in the day instead.

Romero’s certainly one you would have liked to see in MMA sooner, too, but no one did more after a late start in MMA than Cormier. Hell, few have his level of accomplishments, period. You all know his credentials by now, but he didn’t have his first pro fight until age 30 and still has gone out, become one of just two simultaneous two-weight-class champs in UFC history, defeated everyone in his path except the man who might be the most naturally talented fighter ever to compete, and is a ridiculous 15-0 at heavyweight. Neither Romero nor Lesnar had that big of an impact competitively, so if I must pick one, let’s go with DC.

New-look UFC.com

@n_webb1212: Do you like the new UFC website?

I do. I know that goes against the grain of, like, every website redesign in the history of the internet and is drowned out by a howling mob of people affronted by the fact that they’re going to have to take roughly three minutes to find out changes in the nav bar and search function and whatnot. But UFC.com’s look was as outdated as Face the Pain’s sound for years and years. They seem to thankfully be finally phasing out the latter and the website is next in line. We’ve mocked the UFC for their insistence on doing things how they’ve always done them simply because that’s always done them, so let’s give them a little credit when they finally make needed changes.

Hard pass

@Woolman7242: Thoughts on “Combatant in Chief” released on Fight Pass?

Let’s just say some “25 in Short” episodes will age better than others and leave it at that.

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