Conor McGregor of Ireland laughs after the first round against Khabib Nurmagomedov

Snapping Mike Perry’s arm to set a UFC record SHOULD have been the most memorable part of Donald Cerrone’s week. But instead, the buzz surrounding him concerns a possible matchup with a certain Irishman. Considering his social media statement and his desire to move back down to lightweight, the match is a strong possibility.

And everybody wants this fight.

Why Cerrone wants this fight

Like me with donuts or Nicolas Cage with movie scripts, Donald Cerrone will always say yes to a fight. One of MMA’s few folk heroes, he is a man who will trade blows simply because he can. But he also wants to make one more run at the title, and Conor McGregor would be a great fight.

For better or worse, everything McGregor touches turns to gold. But that applies equally to people who can beat him.

Nate Diaz may have been criminally underrated throughout his career, but his financial demands are seen as ludicrous even by his own fans. Yet his win(s) over McGregor have put him in a superstar bargaining position. It doesn’t matter that he is 3-3 in his last six fights, can’t cut a ring or check a leg kick; you beat McGregor and you get to sit a bit straighter at the negotiating table.

Cerrone maintains a stellar relationship with the UFC brass and fanbase, but he’s a far cry from the title shot. Not because he lacks talent, but because freaks of nature haunt the lightweight division. It is, without question, the deepest division in all of combat sports period. The men who inflicted his most crushing lightweight defeats aren’t even close to the top #5.

He’ll be an underdog against Conor, but it’s a winnable fight which allows him to leap over a murderer’s row for his shot.

Why McGregor wants this fight

The UFC’s golden goose finds himself cornered after his loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov.

He doesn’t enjoy the near-universal height and reach advantage he did at featherweight, forcing him to adventure beyond his “wait for whiffed punch, slam counter left” strategy. Sure, Khabib was a bad matchup but do any of the top lightweights look appealing? The “easiest” matchup is Dustin Poirier, whom he beat before, but the Louisiana native looks like a different fighter at lightweight. That leaves Kevin Lee, Tony Ferguson and Edson Barboza. In all honesty, how confident are we that Conor can beat them?

Cerrone may be outside the top #5, but his record-breaking win transforms him into a marketable opponent. And he’s dangerous enough that, despite his lack of ranking, people won’t interpret him as a tomato can to build up Conor’s confidence. And if Conor wins, he can negotiate another title shot without having to navigate a sea of killers.

You know, what he did at featherweight.

Why the UFC wants this fight

(See previous)

Why the fans want this fight

Conor McGregor fans want to see him win spectacularly while the rest of the MMA world wants the exact opposite. There’s a pretty good chance of either outcome here.

Cerrone received his biggest losses against fighters who took advantage of his slow starts to get inside and blast him with shots to the body and head. Attacking with pinpoint power punches in the early goings of a fight is kind of Conor’s MO. But the lanky Cerrone will lash out with punches, kicks, and knees if he gets going which will give Conor more problems than Nate Diaz ever did.

Both men prefer to keep the fight standing, both are exciting and both have a good chance to win. What more could you ask for in a headlining fight?

Why I want this fight

Because I make my dislike of Conor McGregor so apparent, I repeatedly try to mention that I do think he’s a good fighter. The problem is we don’t know how good.

He spent his featherweight days avoiding top wrestlers and matching up exclusively against big punchers with no reach. He struggled against Nate Diaz, a man who came from vacation in Mexico for the first fight and was injured in the second. Then he fought Eddie Alvarez, literally one of two lightweights in the top of the division over whom he had a height advantage. Now he gets waxed by Khabib.

Cerrone is a beatable opponent, but McGregor will have to stray outside his comfort zone.

As a southpaw, can he slam his power left into Cerrone’s body? Can he do it while avoiding the taller man’s intercepting knees? Being the healthier man at 155-pounds, can he use volume punching and footwork to outlast Cerrone if he can’t bring him down in the early rounds?

No matter how he wins or loses, we will learn about Conor. It will cut through my dislike of him and bring me closer to appraising his true skill set, which I pride myself on as an analyst.

Hurry up and sign the fight (after the ruling by the Nevada commission, of course). Because no matter who loses, we all win.

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