Prior to UFC 246’s main event, I considered trying to write this article before the fight happened. For one, it would serve as an interesting test for myself — how many little details could I call correctly without having to edit? — but more importantly, because the main event was so ridiculously predictable that I didn’t feel like watching it would actually be necessary to write about the divisional consequences.
While I did end up waiting to write this recap, the universally-recognized-most-likely outcome indeed came to pass. It may have happened a little quicker than most of us expected (40 seconds rather than two minutes) and included some cool shoulder strikes (watch them here), but the bottom line is the same.
Conor McGregor knocked out Donald Cerrone — because of course he did! Prior to the bout, I walked around the streets of Phuket and interviewed random people about their predictions, and the vast majority called the outcome perfectly ... because it was easy.
There was a path to victory for “Cowboy,” one that involved patience, critical game planning, and a focus on defense — none of which are fortes of the adrenaline junkie. Meanwhile, McGregor’s ideal strategy involved taking advantage of Cerrone’s historical weaknesses, like sharp straight left hands down the pipe and early aggression.
Another name for that strategy would be “Conor McGregor’s wheelhouse.”
It was a cool knockout and everything, but I struggle to see what this victory changes. On one hand, McGregor could now face a top contender like Justin Gaethje and try to rightfully “earn” a title shot at Lightweight or Welterweight. However, he also could’ve fought such a foe without pointlessly melting “Cowboy.”
Alternatively, does this win now mean that McGregor has “earned” a title shot against the likes of Khabib Nurmagomedov or Kamaru Usman? Of course not! There are far more deserving contenders, like the aforementioned Gaethje, Leon Edwards and Jorge Masvidal. That’s not to say he couldn’t jump those men if UFC desires it ... but he could’ve done that without crushing Cerrone, too. It would be unjustified from a sporting perspective either way, so who cares about the minute details? Everyone else is getting title shots off losses, why not the sport’s biggest star?
Whatever McGregor wants to do next, UFC probably could have made it happen without this fight. Aside from the absurd amount of money McGregor and the company banked, there is perhaps one real benefit: casual fans are now likely plenty riled up and ready to buy the next “Notorious” pay-per-view (PPV).
For those who pay attention, however, nothing has really changed. We didn’t need this fight to know that McGregor can knock out hittable opposition and look damn good doing it. Unless you are truly blinded by hate, it’s obvious that McGregor is an incredible fighter and one of the best strikers in the sport’s history. However, when the match up does not even remotely test any of McGregor’s known flaws, there’s no reason to pretend anything valuable was learned about the Irishman.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained. It was such a safe booking with such a predictable outcome that even a 40-second knockout is anti-climatic. To be clear, I’ll happily watch whomever McGregor faces next along with everyone else ... but again, that would’ve been true before he knockout out Donald Cerrone.
For complete UFC 246 results, including play-by-play updates from last night, click here. To check out the latest and greatest UFC 246: “McGregor vs. Cerrone” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.