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White says slow down on McGregor’s next fight: ‘The level of disrespect shown to Cowboy is unbelievable’

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Lost in a sea of questions regarding Conor McGregor’s future is a question no one asks: What happens if Donald Cerrone wins at UFC 246?

Conor McGregor has been making big headlines through the holidays as he unveils his plans for a busy “season” of fights. The lightweight title is in his sights. The welterweight title. BMF belt? Sure, why not! It’s all within his grasp. All he has to do is defeat Donald Cerrone at UFC 246 on Jan. 18, 2020.

No big deal?

It certainly seems like we think it’s no big deal, considering I haven’t read one article about what’s next for “Cowboy” should he beat McGregor. Dana White brought that implicit disrespect up when talking to ESPN’s Brett Okamoto.

”We’re getting through this one first, we’re getting through the Cowboy fight,” he said when asked about McGregor’s next opponent. “And the level of disrespect shown to Cowboy through this whole thing? Apparently people forgot that Cowboy’s lost two in a row before and come back and gone on unbelievable runs. Let’s not count Cowboy out.”

Again, it’s a different kind of disrespect that’s swirling than the kind of stuff you find on Twitter where mixed martial arts (MMA) fans declare Cerrone a jobber who is going to take a dive for his company. It’s even a cut above the occasional podcast observation that “Cowboy” is the easiest opponent for McGregor to return to, certainly easier than Justin Gaethje.

In this case, the disrespect is all in the expectations we all have looking forward into 2020. Conor McGregor already has us wondering whether he can compete for real at 170 pounds or defeat Khabib in a rematch. Donald Cerrone’s fate is an unspoken inevitability in all of our minds.

It’s the same kind of thing you see when guys like Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua fight those “in-between” opponents: we all just keep talking about the eventual Deontay Wilder fight in the hazy future. Of course, as we learned last year, sometimes Anthony Joshua loses to the Andy Ruiz no one was giving credit to. And “Cowboy” on his best day certainly comes in with more than a Ruiz’s shot, especially when McGregor could be coming in with a balloon foot or blown ACL or who knows what else.

Maybe on fight week, Dana White will be able to hammer home what a threat Cerrone represents. For now, we’re all looking ahead into a future that involves even bigger fights for Conor McGregor. McGregor himself may be doing the same thing, and that may be another edge for “Cowboy” to exploit. Come Jan. 18, 2020, we’ll find out whether Cerrone has been criminally overlooked or not.