Fight fans all over the world were treated with some exciting news on Thanksgiving.
Brett Okamoto, of ESPN, reported that Conor McGregor would face Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone at UFC 246 on January 18, 2020 in Las Vegas.
Okamoto’s report was a message sent over from UFC President Dana White, highlighting the return of the former lightweight and featherweight champion, Conor McGregor. It was also reported that this fight would take place at 170 pounds, not 155 pounds where both fighters most recently competed.
As the focus will be on the Irish superstar’s return to the UFC, the other side of this fight is Donald Cerrone.
Cerrone is finally getting a fight that he has wanted for 4 years. Their first interaction was was back in 2015 at the UFC’s “Go Big” press conference. Cerrone was preparing for Rafael dos Anjos, and McGregor was preparing for Jose Aldo (at featherweight). The two would exchange verbal blows and plant the seed for a fight that fans have been calling for ever since.
Since then Cerrone has gone 8-6, and McGregor has gone 3-2, while winning both the featherweight and lightweight titles over that time span. While McGregor’s fame has skyrocketed in less fight time, Cerrone has remained a mainstay and a fan favorite, but where does this fight take him?
Both fighters have become fathers since their first verbal exchange, and while Cerrone has reeled back on being the wild personality who wants to fight everyone on any given day, McGregor has found himself in the news for both his high-profiled fights but also high-profiled incidents that found him in legal trouble.
The scene is quite different from 2015, from when they step into the cage to face each other in 2020. There will be no title on the line, they won’t be fighting at their normal weight class, and the stakes simply just don’t seem to be as high as they could have been.
More recently, Cerrone has talked about a path to the UFC lightweight title and a matchup with champion Khabib Nurmagomedov. However, after two consecutive losses to lightweight contenders Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje, could Cerrone have a benefit in taking this fight at welterweight?
With the UFC creating the new ‘BMF’ title, a path to different gold could be in play for Cerrone. Even though Dana White said the ‘BMF’ title was a one-off, champion Jorge Masvidal could keep an eye on the UFC 246 main event and push for a fight against the winner.
For Cerrone, not only would a win over McGregor be monumental for his career, but it could line up a possible rematch fight with Masvidal, who beat Cerrone at 155 pounds. This time, the ‘BMF’ title could be up for grabs.
Pure speculation at this moment, but there has to be more to the reasoning for the UFC booking this fight for 170 pounds. Both McGregor and Cerrone don’t have much fire behind them in the lightweight division, but there are bigger prize fights in the welterweight division for both of them.
Finally getting the fight he has wanted for so long, Cerrone still has aspirations of becoming UFC champion. It won’t be a title fight against McGregor helping him achieve that, but McGregor could be a massive stepping stone in the quest to gold for “Cowboy”.
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The Scrap’s Mike Pendleton has worked for numerous MMA outlets and has a passion for telling stories within the combat sports industry. Follow him on Twitter (@MP2310) and listen to his On The Mic Podcast on iTunes.