Written by Aiden Holczer
What is there to say about Conor McGregor that hasn’t already been said? The first two-division champion in UFC history, the fighter that single handedly catapulted the UFC into the age of social media, and, without a shadow of a doubt, the most polarizing fighter in MMA history. Put simply, you either love him or hate him.
McGregor is making his first return to the octagon since his bout with Khabib Nurmagomedov October of last year, this time against Donald “Cowboy” Cerone. What makes this fight so interesting—and dangerous for McGregor—is the fact that it is taking place at 170lbs, more commonly known as Welterweight, a weight at which Conor has fought twice before, both times against the same opponent, Nate Diaz.
Conor went 1-1 in these two bouts. He lost his first go around against Diaz by rear naked choke, a loss that “experts” considered a shocking upset, yet to anyone that was educated in the sport of MMA, this wasn’t very surprising. His victory came in the highly anticipated rematch between the two fighters, winning by a very close decision that could have gone either way.
I have always thought that these two bouts alone were ill-advised for McGregor. The reason for this isn’t a lack of skill; Conor is easily one of the most talented fighters in UFC history. It’s his body type. Let’s get the obvious out of the way: Conor McGregor isn’t a huge guy. The average male height in Ireland is 5’9”, which just so happens to be Conor’s exact height. Donald Cerone on the other hand, stands at 6’0, but has a one inch shorter reach than Conor.
In fighting, there is an important term known as a “walk around weight”, which is the weight that a fighter is at before beginning their weight cut and training camps. While Conor has made his name in the 155lb and 145lb divisions, this doesn’t mean that either of these are his walk around weight. Based on all we have heard from Conor’s coach and subsequent training camps, I would place his walk around weight at around 170-175lbs. With height and weight considered, why would I think that a fight at 170lbs is so dangerous for Conor, if it’s at or around his walk around weight?
The answer is pretty simple: a fighter’s walk around weight is never their peak fighting weight. Let’s just use common sense for a minute: if a fighters walk around weight is their peak performance weight, why would they spend all the money that they do on an expensive training camp or world-class coaches? Conor McGregor is a prime example of this phenomenon. If we are in agreement that Conor’s walk around weight is in the range of 170lbs, we should look at how both Diaz fights played out at 170lbs, and not just the result on a piece of paper.
When we take a closer look, it is clear to see that at 170 lbs, Conor is not only slower but less powerful with worse conditioning. He threw everything and the kitchen sink at Diaz in the first fight, and when none of it worked, he gassed out and nearly got his head ripped off from Diaz’s rear naked choke. Conor’s best attribute is his ability to finish his opponents, he’s a knockout artist, just take a look at the Jose Aldo fight, and yet in a fight that went the distance, he wasn’t able to finish the job and had to go to the judge’s scorecards, which is never a guarantee.
So why, knowing all the information that we do now, is Conor taking this fight at 170lbs, against an opponent that, like himself, has fought at 155lbs for most of his career? There are, I believe, two possible reasons. Firstly, at this point in Connor’s career he simply doesn’t want to cut weight anymore. You can call it laziness, I like to call it the natural progression of a career. When Floyed Mayweather became “Money” Mayweather, he became famous for saying that he wouldn’t take the best fight for the sport, he would take the best fight for him, AKA the fight that would pay the most. Conor has made so much money at 31 years of age that the stress of cutting weight is simply not worth it anymore to him.
The second reason is Jorge Masvidal. Standing at 5’11”, Masvidal is the hottest fighter in the entire UFC right now, having recently claimed the BMF title after defeating Nate Diaz (yes, the same Nate Diaz), earlier this year. Masvidal is, in my opinion, the second or third biggest draw in the entire UFC, and is arguably next up for a shot at the belt at Welterweight. To put it plainly, Conor would be crazy to get in the octagon with Masvidal. He would get MAULED. Yet, I believe Conor is chasing Masvidal, and it stems from a comment made by UFC president, Dana White.
During the UFC 240 post-event news conference, White responded to a question about a possible McGregor vs Masvidal fight by saying that “Masvidal is too big for him, I think Masvidal is too big. Conor disagrees, so Conor was not happy that I said that Masvidal was too big for him.” Out of these two options, I believe that the Masvidal angle is the most valid, because if there is one thing I’ve learned, it’s not to tell Conor McGregor what he can and can’t do.