Conor McGregor vs. Donald Cerrone, perhaps the most highly anticipated lightweight fight of 2019, has hit a roadblock, per UFC commentator and podcaster Joe Rogan.
Rogan explained last night on the Joe Rogan Experience (JRE) MMA Show #58, with Brendan Schaub, that the collapse in negotiations had little to do with either man turning the fight down.
Instead, Rogan revealed that negotiations failed because the UFC attempted to book the fight as a co-main event. He went on to say that “I think the idea is that they have to have world titles as a main event for a pay-per-view”.
“I think the idea is that they have to have world titles as a main event for a pay-per-view”
This reasoning seems dubious, though, given that both McGregor vs. Diaz fights, which are currently the second and third largest pay-per-views in UFC history behind McGregor’s October loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov, did not have a title on the line. Indeed, their first fight, which took place at UFC 196, was chosen as the main event ahead of a bout between Miesha Tate and Holly Holm, which was for the women’s bantamweight title.
It was thought that progress had been made between Cerrone and McGregor when, following ‘Cowboy’s’ dominant victory over Alex Hernandez at UFC Fight Night 143, ‘The Notorious’ tweeted “For a fight like that Donald, I’ll fight you. Congratulations”. Cerrone later responded to McGregor, strongly suggesting that a fight had been booked between the two men who have a combined 25 post-fight bonus awards between them.
However, at the UFC 236 press conference last Friday, Dana White shot down any rumors that a fight had been made, saying, “These two have been talking about this, and I said if they want to fight, I would do it, but we’re nowhere close to a fight. We’re actually looking at other opponents right now for Cowboy”.
With most lightweights above Cerrone in the UFC rankings currently booked, the #9 ranked ‘Cowboy’ may find himself matched up against #4 ranked Al Iaquinta, who defeated Kevin Lee by decision in his most recent bout.
Meanwhile, McGregor is still currently serving a six-month suspension following the events of UFC 229, and will only be eligible to compete again in April, whether that is against Cerrone, Diaz for a third time, or perhaps Tony Ferguson, whose position in the lightweight division is unclear after he supposedly turned down a fight against Max Holloway for the interim title. Holloway is set to face Dustin Poirier for interim gold at the aforementioned UFC 236.