Jorge Masvidal is always looking to add a few more zeroes to his bank account. But for as much as he stands to earn in a potential fight against Conor McGregor, he’s not entirely convinced the former two-division champion will make it through Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone at UFC 246.
After 15 months away, McGregor fights Cerrone at 170 pounds, a request he made in hopes of preparing his body for three potential fights in 2020. Still, the Irish star gives up size to Cerrone, who’s fought at welterweight several times in the UFC with wins over Matt Brown, Mike Perry and Rick Story.
Masvidal might be invested in a McGregor victory purely from a financial standpoint, but he’s also gone toe-to-toe with Cerrone, and he knows it won’t be an easy test for the outspoken Irishman.
“Conor’s amazing off the blocks,” Masvidal said in an interview with Submission Radio. “I think he’s got great timing. While guys are getting their timing, Conor’s already coming in with the timing. He already has their timing by the time you go to your timing. Good power, (and) good confidence in it. I would rank Conor one of the better starters of the sport. Donald, on the other hand, is more of a rhythm fighter. He takes a little bit to work at it. He puts his feints together, his movements, starts gauging speeds, see how fast, how strong they’re throwing.
“So, he works on that, and he’s like a rhythm fighter. So, with time he does a little bit better, and I think he’s got a little bit better endurance than Conor as well. So, if Cowboy comes out and he’s like a dual threat, it becomes more of a problem, (and) then I start to lean more to Cowboy. If he just comes out flatfooted and he’s in front of Conor, I heavily go towards Conor, man.”
Anything can happen in a fight, of course. But stylistically, Masvidal sees McGregor as a nightmare matchup for Cerrone when pitting a heavy-handed southpaw against an orthodox kickboxer.
“It’s just tailor-made for Conor,” Masvidal said. “Flatfooted, right-handed fighter is just custom made for a southpaw with a decent left hand. So, it can be interesting, because even in that mayhem Cowboy can land the knee; he could land the kick. He’s the bigger guy.
“But I think it really depends on Cowboy, what kind of strategy he comes out with.”
Despite suggestions from MMA fans that McGregor handpicked Cerrone because it’s an easier fight than opponents like Justin Gaethje, Masvidal refuses to look past an athlete who currently holds a long list of UFC records, including most wins and most finishes inside the Octagon.
“He’s back to fight a top contender,” Masvidal said. “He’s not picking no slouch, he’s fighting a stud in Cowboy. It’s an older Cowboy that’s been through a lot of wars, yes, but it’s still Cowboy. Not only is he a draw, but he’s a very competitive individual. I think he’s like number five or six in the world right now. So, he’s definitely no slouch.
“Were there tougher fights? Of course, there was probably tougher fights. But it’s a great fight. I’ll be tuning in and I’ll be watching.”
Masvidal knows that a win by McGregor on Jan. 18 could set up a fight between them later in 2020, which could become one of the biggest fights of the year. That said, the current “BMF” champion isn’t going as far as rooting for McGregor, because even if he’s victorious against Cowboy, there’s still no guarantee the fight will happen.
“I don’t know if Conor wins it means that he fights me,” Masvidal said. “I really don’t know that. I don’t think so. From watching interviews, hearing things, I don’t think so, man. I think buddy goes a different path, man.
“Maybe I’m just looking into the future. But I don’t think so. I think I’m gonna end up making owl soup [against Kamaru Usman] at some point this year.”