HYDEN BLOG: Thoughts on Conor McGregor vs. Donald Cerrone

Frank Hyden MMATorch Columnist

McGregor Cerrone

Thoughts on Conor McGregor vs. Donald Cerrone

There were no big events this past week so I’ll just touch upon some news.

The UFC and ESPN debuted an ad for Conor McGregor’s return to the cage. It showed various clips and soundbites from McGregor and focused on him being back and making his ESPN+ debut. It was basically just a hype video for him, it showed him swaggering around and being entertaining and all that.

What’s that?

I haven’t mentioned who McGregor is fighting? Well, that’s all right because the ad didn’t either. There was no mention whatsoever of Donald Cerrone, it was all McGregor all the time. I see the UFC hasn’t learned their lesson at all from doing the exact same thing when Ronda Rousey made her return against Amanda Nunes.

Rousey got destroyed by Nunes, who has gone on to have tremendous success in the cage but isn’t nearly as popular as she should be. All the prefight hype was on Rousey with no thought given to Nunes at all.

I’m not saying that McGregor is going to get his ass kicked by Cerrone (I think McGregor wins) but it’s a possibility. Donald Cerrone isn’t some chump tomato can being thrown to the wolves, he’s a good fighter who’s capable of winning this fight. McGregor is going to have to earn this win if he wants it. Yet the UFC and ESPN are essentially treating it as a formality.

Dana White defended the sole prefight focus on Rousey as coming from people who don’t know promoting and made comments about how it was all part of a plan. Well, apparently this plan was so grand and expansive that it has still yet to reach its conclusion because Amanda Nunes still isn’t a big star. And certainly isn’t as big a star as she should be. Granted, she deserves blame for that as well, but placing the focus on one fighter and not even mentioning the other fighter isn’t a good way to hype up a fight.

And it’s not as though Cerrone is an unknown name. He’s obviously not as big a name as McGregor but people know him. To not include him in the buildup is just dumb. It’s also disrespectful, just as it was disrespectful to Nunes. That’s reason enough not to do it, let alone that it’s possible that your chosen one loses and you look even worse.

Moving past this, and any further discussion of whether the fight should have been booked in the first place given McGregor’s legal issues, the fight itself should be really good.

Cerrone is an exciting fighter and McGregor is a showman who also has exciting fights. It’s almost a guarantee that this fight stays on the feet the entire time. So we’re going to have two guys looking to knock each other out that are capable of doing just that. I think we get an explosive highlight reel knockout no later than the beginning of the second round. I think they’re both going to want to make a statement.

McGregor says he wants to fight three times this year, culminating in challenging UFC Lightweight Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov towards the end of the year. Setting aside whether he’s got much of a chance in that fight, it’s a nice goal. The first step of that goal is winning this fight, and winning explosively. McGregor has to make a splash here to build the hype towards this goal.

Cerrone will make a statement here even if he were to outpoint McGregor and win a decision. However, that’s not his style. He’s going to go for it and let his fists fly. If he were to knock McGregor out, it would be by far the biggest win of his career. He’s going to be motivated to deliver that huge win. McGregor vs. Cerrone is a tremendous matchup and should be a contender for Fight of the Year.

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