The UFC finally got back to business, and Conor McGregor did what he was supposed to, knocking out Donald Cerrone in just 40 seconds. Let’s talk about what’s next for McGregor, as well as Yoel Romero’s title shot.
What’s next for Conor? What should be next for him?
— Christopher Howie (@HowieLikeMeNow) January 20, 2020
Well, if you listen to Dana White, what’s next for Conor is a lightweight title shot, hopefully against Khabib Nurmagomedov. But to say that’s a given would be far from certain.
Khabib is currently set to face Tony Ferguson in April. Assuming that fight actually happens this time (cross your fingers), Khabib first has to win that fight before a rematch with Conor can take place. Plus, if Khabib wins, he’s unlikely to fight again until the fall due to Ramadan. That means Conor will need to sit out for nine months, something he’s obviously done before, but also something that’s not included in his goal of being highly active this year.
So if Conor wants to fight someone in the meantime, who would make sense? Jorge Masvidal has been the most aggressive suitor, and he probably would be the best fit. But Conor seems to have cooled on that fight somewhat, and realistically, it’s a very dangerous fight for Conor with not much upside. Similarly, a title eliminator with Justin Gaethje would offer even less upside than a fight with “Gamebred.” And it seems unlikely that McGregor will get a welterweight title shot off the win over Cerrone, but stranger things have happened. Ultimately, what I think will happen is the Masvidal fight, either for the “BMF” belt or an interim welterweight title. But what should happen? Floyd Mayweather.
Conor needs to get back to doing bombastically huge things. That’s what makes him fun. A rematch with Floyd would be both huge business and a massive spectacle, but it also keeps him busy without jeopardizing his lightweight title shot. I know MMA fans will hate it, but when you stop to think about it, Conor going back to boxing is what makes the most sense for him and the UFC right now.
What are your general thoughts on how “the question” went down at the actual press conference?
— Blake (@Woolman7242) January 17, 2020
I think it was entirely predictable and that doesn’t make it any better.
I can’t say this for certain, but MMA feels like the only sport where something like this happens and fans and promoters circle the wagons and reflexively shun any journalist who asks questions about it. And that’s insane. Not only is it completely reasonable to ask McGregor about the sexual assault allegations pending against him, it’s just good journalism. McGregor is certainly within his rights to respond with a “no comment” and leave it at that. In fact, that’s usually how something like this happens in any other sport. But MMA remains a club house for those who’d rather live in ignorance than stare hard truths in the face.
Many MMA fans have a fundamental misunderstanding of the difference between journalism and PR, and I have a sneaking suspicion that some of that boils down to fans viewing MMA as an entertainment entity instead of as a sport. Some people, perhaps most fans, just want to view Conor McGregor as a trash-talking movie hero who lives only in the UFC bubble instead of as a complex human being. And to each their own. You can choose to ignore anything outside of the content you’d like to consume. But don’t boo because other people may care to hear an influential and important sports figure comment on serious legal and moral allegations made against him.
Is the booking of Romero for the 185 belt the newest low for the UFC when it comes to standards? Don’t get me wrong. Romero is hell of a fighter. But he has lost two in a row and there are more deserving guys.(Same goes for the talk of Aldo and Triple Clown.)
— Ali2000 (@Ali200035707769) January 17, 2020
Not even close.
First, let me be clear here: I am a Yoel Romero mark. I firmly believe he beat Robert Whittaker in their rematch (because I have eyeballs that work) and I also believe he beat Paulo Costa in their fight. Furthermore, I think there’s a good case to be made that for the previous four years, Romero has been the actual best middleweight in the world, and the only reason he doesn’t have the belt is a confluence of horrible luck and Michael Bisping’s treacherous middleweight title run.
So, given all that, no, I don’t believe this is even a really bad one. Had the judges scored Romero-Costa right, Romero would’ve been the next title challenger anyway, and with Costa injured, this fight makes the most sense for all parties. Plus, it’s payback for when Romero should’ve taken the title from Bisping. But “The Count” egregiously ducked him for a fight with Georges St-Pierre instead.
The Aldo situation is a little different. I’m also about as big of a Jose Aldo mark as you can get, but him getting a title shot off of one performance where he actually lost and only arguably won is a major stretch, especially because the bantamweight division has a number of legitimate challengers waiting. That being said, I like Aldo, and he’s a legend. So I’m not going to get too upset by it.
Oh, and the new low for standards is Conor McGregor getting a lightweight title shot after knocking out a guy at welterweight who was coming off back-to-back loses. And that’s especially because his presumptive opponent is a man who bludgeoned him violently not that long ago. But such is the way of the MMA world.
Would a 30 year old chuck liddel beat jon jones today?
— Daniel Pompilio (@elpompilio) January 17, 2020
No. There is no iteration of Chuck Liddell that would beat any iteration of Jon Jones since Jones won the light heavyweight title. Chuck’s greatest success came against fighters who wanted to take him down. Jon could just jab his face off and use low line side kicks to hamper Chuck’s movement. Plus I’d be astonished if Jones, one of the highest IQ fighters in the game, got caught by an overhand right.
Chuck would get demolished.
Will we ever see the Women’s atomweight division added to the UFC? So much talent in that division.
— _Metaphor (@Metapho73698592) January 17, 2020
At this point it seems highly unlikely unless a massive atomweight star emerges somewhere. If the UFC was interested in adding another weight class, they would have pulled the trigger on atomweight a long time ago, when Michelle Waterson could have spearheaded the division. Instead, Waterson has stayed almost in contention at strawweight, and so the UFC just isn’t interested in it.
Khabib is unbeatable. Haven’t seen anything like him since GSP. What is the perfect style and game plan to even make Khabib look vulnerable?
— GuiltyofBeingMexican (@guiltymexican) January 17, 2020
That might be a bit much, but if he beats Tony, I think Khabib has a very good case to be considered the greatest fighter of all time. Lightweight is a freaking shark tank, and what he’s done thus far is borderline impossible. The man is a monster.
That being said, he’s far from unbeatable. One of the things that makes people underestimate him is that even the least imaginative fan can see how Khabib gets beaten – someone stuffs the takedown and knocks him out. It’s like with Anderson Silva at his peak. Even though he was considered the P4P best, a number of fans (*cough* me *cough*) had a hard time squaring his run with his obvious weaknesses. But if no one can take advantage of them, then they aren’t really weaknesses.
Khabib has basically spent his entire life fighting against the same opponent – someone who wants to not get grappled by him. That’s why I’ve always said the person who is finally going to beat him is the guy who takes Khabib down. Khabib can grapple off of his back for sure, but it’s not as strong as his top game, and if someone forces him to defensively wrestle, that will throw him entirely off his game. Like when Chris Weidman knocked out Anderson, beating Khabib will probably end up being done by someone who can compete with him at his own strengths versus forcing him to strike.
Thanks for reading this week, and thank you for everyone who sent in Tweets! Do you have any burning questions about at least tacitly related to combat sports? Then you’re in luck because you can send your Hot Tweets to me, @JedKMeshew and I will answer them! Doesn’t matter if they’re topical or insane. Get weird with it. Let’s have fun.