Conor McGregor is finally making his return to mixed martial arts, and he's already got his first opponent lined up. He'll take on Donald Cerrone, who has fought more times than anyone in the history of UFC, as the headliner of UFC 246 on Jan. 18. Some MMA fans, however, are disappointed that McGregor isn't going big game hunting in his first fight back.
They shouldn't be. Because fighting a rugged record-setter like Cowboy after such a long layoff is no walk in the park.
Fighting the guy who has more wins than anyone in the history of UFC is a total cop out, eh? Wrong. Cerrone is going to be aggressive and come right at McGregor, and the Irishman needs to show he can take the punishment the 36-year-old can dish out at 170 pounds.
If McGregor, who is surely at his best in the 155-pound lightweight division, is able to take down Cerrone, that could kickstart a massive 2020 in which he is eyeing a potential fight against Khabib Nurmagomedov in Moscow. But he simply can't afford to look past his January opponent.
If McGregor is serious about getting back into the title contender conversation, he's smart enough to know that fighting a creampuff isn't going to do much for him. If you were hoping he'd make his comeback with a brawl against dangerous contenders like Dustin Poirier or Justin Gaethje, hold your horses. The Notorious needs to prove he can get past a veteran warrior like Cowboy in order for any path back to the MMA penthouse to reveal itself.
The burden, as well as no small amount of pressure, is on him.