October 6, 2019, and April 6, 2019. Mark those dates down on the calendar. Those are very important dates in Mixed Martial Arts world as Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov respectively end their NSAC suspensions on those days. Word was finally (and I mean finally) handed down last week that McGregor would receive six months retroactively and Khabib nine months retroactive to October 6.
What does it mean for McGregor?
Honestly, I’m shocked the former double champ got anything for his part in the UFC 229 melee that led us all here. All that aside, McGregor has got six months to stew about his suspension, my guess is that McGregor will make his return this summer against Donald Cerrone. Why? Because, stylistically it’s a good matchup for the Irishman, and also Cerrone is a legend of the game and deserves the payday. McGregor needs to stock up a win or two to start inching back to the rematch he desperately wants and needs. Cerrone, at least on paper is a good matchup to do just that. He’s been on fire lately, and it will be worth it monetarily for both to accept the fight. It’s a really easy decision in my eyes for Dana White, I expect Conor back in the octagon with Cowboy no later than July.
And for Khabib?
The lightweight champion got what I thought he would, the only monkey wrench is that he stated he will not fight in Las Vegas again due to the sanctions against his teammates for their part in the brawl. My best guess is that Khabib will not be stripped, and will return at Madison Square Garden in November against Tony Ferguson. It is realistically the only fight to make at this point. Tony never lost the title and was the lineal lightweight champion, losing it due to a freak injury sustained while tripping over wires. Ferguson has performed well in his return, and a matchup with Khabib is really the only one to make.
Do the penalties fit the crimes?
Yes. For Khabib, the Dagestani was fined $500,000, and will miss nine months of action. I think it’s justified. The McGregor verdict I’m confused on. It probably does not matter anyway, McGregor was probably not going to return to the octagon any sooner than the summer anyhow, so it is a wash. Losing half a million dollars and a year of your career should be a deterrent to post-fight shenanigans in the future. That being said, it’s the fight business, and emotions run high. In the end, I was not as offended by the post-fight melee than most, and frankly, I’m glad it’s over.