Conor McGregor is lobbying for a shot at UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman in his return to the Octagon, but “Notorious” may want to pump his brakes.
As the best pound-for-pound fighter in the sport today Usman poses a unique test for any fighter, especially someone coming off a long layoff like McGregor. Not to mention the fact that McGregor has never fought a true welterweight and is outmatched on paper by Usman’s wrestling and overwhelming physical prowess.
That said, McGregor remains confident that he can give Usman problems if they ever met inside of the cage. It’s a lofty belief to say the least, but if McGregor wants to return and offer a massive payday for Usman and the promotion it could be hard to pass up for all parties.
The MMA community, including UFC color commentator Joe Rogan, believes that McGregor would be biting off more than he can chew in a title fight with “Nigerian Nightmare.” Rogan recently expanded on his feelings towards the matchup and suggests that McGregor book a “tune-up fight” before signing the dotted line for a bout with Usman.
“If Conor wants the most chance of success, I would say fight a guy who is a little below championship level,” Rogan said on a recent episode of “Hotboxin’ with Mike Tyson.” “Maybe a guy on the come-up, who Conor has an advantage over, but it’s still a competitive fight. Give him a test, but don’t put him in there right away with Usman.”
McGregor, who never seems to shy away from a challenge, is coming off a serious leg injury suffered in his trilogy fight with Dustin Poirier back at UFC 264. The Irish superstar has been rehabbing ever since and hopes to make a huge statement in his return later this year. McGregor has only captured one victory in his last four trips to the cage so a win in his comeback fight is extremely important.
It may be beneficial for “Notorious” to curb his aspirations to win a third UFC title and get back into the win column before he shoots for the stars. But considering McGregor has bulked up to a welterweight frame it may be hard for him to book a “tune-up fight” that makes sense at 170 pounds.
“I think, honestly, when boxers come back from a long layoff and they come back from a loss, one thing that boxers do that’s smart is they have a tune-up fight,” Rogan said. “I think there’s a reason why they’ve been using tune-up fights forever like astute managers. They know you’ve got to knock the dust off and you’ll be better in the next performance. To jump right into a Dustin Poirier or right into, name it, Michael Chandler, like right into a guy who’s the elite of the elite.
“I think what Conor needs to do is what Conor wants to do. If Conor thinks he can go up and fight Usman and make a big payday, try to become a three-division champion, he should do that. He should do whatever he wants to do, but if I was like a manager to him, and I said what’s the best path to success, the best path to success is like the ‘Cowboy’ fight. No disrespect to ‘Cowboy,’ but that fight turned out to be kind of like a warm-up fight.”
What do you think, fight fans? If McGregor doesn’t fight Usman in his return who else makes sense?