UFC

McGregor v Cerrone: Who's next for 'the Notorious' after stunning 40-second UFC 246 win?

By Sports Desk January 19, 2020

If you blinked there is every chance you may have missed Conor McGregor's clinical and devastating return at UFC 246.

The Irishman only needed 40 seconds to defeat MMA legend Donald Cerrone in Las Vegas on Saturday in what was his first bout in the Octagon for 15 months.

Many had predicted a McGregor victory, just maybe not the swift nature of it, and more difficult challenges lie in wait for the 31-year-old.

So just who is next for McGregor? We take a look at six possibilities.

 

JORGE MASVIDAL

A man, like McGregor, whose verbal skills match his technical ability. After a stellar 2019, which brought victories over Darren Till, Ben Askren and Nate Diaz, Jorge Masvidal has frequently tried to catch McGregor's attention, even going as far as to wear the same Versace robe the Irishman donned for his 2017 fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr when in attendance for the Cerrone bout. While 'the Notorious' laughed off that attempt to get under his skin, he once again conceded the prospect of facing Masvidal for the UFC's BMF belt is an interesting one.

NATE DIAZ

It seems unlikely a trilogy fight between McGregor and Nate Diaz will take place in the immediate future but who knows in the MMA game? Their first two encounters in 2016, which were split at one apiece, were among the most lucrative in UFC history. After McGregor's victory over Cerrone, Diaz took to Twitter to call out the event as "fake", prompting a reply from his long-time foe at a post-victory news conference in which he said: "Let's go brother, number three. It's always here, so we are right here Nathan."

KAMARU USMAN

McGregor made history in 2016 by becoming the first fighter in UFC history to hold belts in two divisions at the same time. After successfully stepping up to 170lbs to defeat Cerrone, the chance to hold a third strap at welterweight is sure to be of interest. The man currently in possession of the prize is Kamaru Usman. McGregor called out the Nigerian-American after his victory over Colby Covington last month and Usman has been unsurprisingly open to the idea. An intriguing sub-plot prior to the Cerrone fight was a series of unsavoury Tweets posted from Usman's account aimed at McGregor, though he later insisted he was hacked. 

KHABIB NURMAGOMEDOV 

There was bad blood in and out of the Octagon when McGregor and unbeaten lightweight king Khabib Nurmagomedov first waged war in October 2018. On that occasion, Khabib submitted McGregor before an all-out melee marred the win. McGregor has clamoured for another opportunity, while UFC president Dana White said of the possibility: "It's the fight you make, it's the fight that makes sense." Certainly, there would be plenty of eager eyes on this one.

MANNY PACQUIAO

In the immediate future, it looks as though McGregor still has goals in UFC he wants to accomplish. But prior to beating Cerrone, he made no secret of a desire to win a boxing world title and revealed talks were ongoing to face Filipino great Manny Pacquiao. Even at the ripe old age of 41, Pacquiao remains as active as ever and defeated Keith Thurman via a split decision to win the WBA Super welterweight champion last July. 

FLOYD MAYWEATHER JR

It was one of the most lucrative fights in history when these two first danced together in a Las Vegas super fight in August 2017. McGregor vowed to avenge his defeat to 'Money' if a rematch were to happen, and Mayweather teased the possibility on Instagram when he mocked up a poster that read "Mayweather McGregor 2, 2020". Addressing that after the fight, McGregor said "that rematch will happen at some stage". Perhaps this one really is a matter of when, not if. 

Related items

  • Can Arteta's improved Arsenal finally end their Anfield hoodoo? Can Arteta's improved Arsenal finally end their Anfield hoodoo?

    3-1. 5-1. 4-0. 3-1. It is fair to say Liverpool have dominated Arsenal in their recent Premier League meetings at Anfield.

    It is eight years since the Gunners won away at Liverpool in the top flight, Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla scoring the goals that day when Jamie Carragher and Stewart Downing were in the home squad.

    However, ahead of Monday's visit to Merseyside, there is fresh optimism in unbeaten Arsenal's ranks given the north London club have beaten Liverpool twice - once at Emirates Stadium and once at Wembley in the Community Shield - in the past two months.

    Mikel Arteta has certainly improved Arsenal, but how? And how might that help them at Anfield? We take a look at the Opta data.

     

    Possession isn't everything

    Some of Arteta's formative years were spent at Barcelona and he earned his coaching stripes at Pep Guardiola's Manchester City, but his Arsenal are not the possession-obsessed unit like those at his former stops.

    Dating back to the start of the 2019-20 season, Arsenal's possession figure in Arteta's 22 games in charge (52.9 per cent) is lower than the 18 matches they played under Unai Emery and caretaker Freddie Ljungberg (55.4 per cent).

    The Gunners had just 31.1 per cent of the ball in their 2-1 win over Liverpool in July - their lowest figure dating back to the start of last term - while they had 40.3 per cent of the ball in the Community Shield, and it could be a similar figure this time around given the Reds' recent acquisition of midfield maestro Thiago Alcantara.

    Moreover, under Arteta, Arsenal have a lower ratio of passes in the final third (17.0 per cent compared to 20.4) and a lower ratio of passes in their opponents' half (55.6 per cent compared to 58.1).

     

    A clinical side

    So where have they improved? In front of goal.

    Their shot conversion rate with Arteta in charge is 17.3, way up on the 11.3 figure of the combined Emery and Ljungberg games.

    They have scored 13 more goals in four more fixtures, with their xG (expected goals) rising from 23.27 to 27.48. The difference between their goals and expected goals since Arteta took over is stark. Before it was just 0.73, now they are outperforming their xG by a whopping 9.52, in part because they are creating far better chances.

    Could Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's changing role be a reason for that?

     

    Aubameyang: Out of left field?

    One of the most remarkable stats to emerge from Arsenal's 5-1 thumping at Liverpool in December 2018 was how ineffectual Aubameyang was. The Gabon international had just 13 touches, six of which came from a kick-off, as the game completely bypassed him while he operated in a central-attacking berth.

    He ended that season with the Premier League Golden Boot - and matched his tally of 22 goals in 2019-20, too - so making sure he is heavily involved at Anfield is obviously paramount.

    Aubameyang's role has changed since Arteta came in, with the Spaniard preferring to deploy his prized asset almost exclusively on the left.

    In 2018-19, 18.07 per cent of Aubameyang's touches came on the left third of the final third, while 19.15 per cent came in the middle third of the final third.

    In 2019-20, the share of touches he has on the left third of the final third has risen to 28.53 per cent, while it has dropped to 13.1 per cent in the middle third.

    Aubameyang can therefore be expected to stay out on the left side of Arsenal's attack, which could cause Liverpool problems given it puts him in direct competition with the attack-minded Trent Alexander-Arnold.

    Aubameyang will certainly hope to have more of an impact than he did two years ago, and the signs are good, both for him and Arteta's Arsenal.

  • UFC 253: Adesanya targets Cannonier after Costa clinic UFC 253: Adesanya targets Cannonier after Costa clinic

    Israel Adesanya believes he silenced his critics after putting on a clinic to defend his middleweight title against Paulo Costa and is targeting a fight with Jared Cannonier next.

    The 'Last Stylebender' dominated Costa at UFC 253 at 'Fight Island' in Abu Dhabi, scoring a second-round TKO in a one-sided fight.

    Adesanya, who remains unbeaten, had faced criticism for a lacklustre defence against Yoel Romero in his previous fight but gave a timely reminder of his quality. 

    "You all must have forgot. I have to make you remember, we're the best," Adesanya said.

    He added to ESPN: "This is the gаme we plаy, this is violence аnd I told you guys thаt it wаs going to be violent аnd I sаid it, it's going to be violent аnd it's going to end fаst аnd thаt's whаt I did.

    "I'm fresh, I cаn go next weekend, I cаn go аnytime.

    "I wаnt to spend time with my fаmily becаuse it's been а crаzy yeаr, so I wаnt to go spend time with my people."

    Adesanya gave a withering assessment of his opponent, adding: "He wаs slow, bro. Honestly. He wаs slower thаn I thought.

    "Becаuse the highlights – I'm fаster on TV аs well. But in reаl life, I could feel him. He wаs slow.

    "When he loаds up on his kick. He hit me on the ribs twice. Meh. Nothing, I аte thаt. He didn't touch me on the fаce once, still pretty.

    "I could see him, I could see everything. I cut him аnd I wаs like, 'You hаve а little something, а little spot over here'. My shins, my skinny shins, sliced him open like а kаtаnа blаde."

    Dana White was asked after the fight if Adesanya was living up to a billing as the next Anderson Silva, but the UFC president said he is forging his own legacy with his own inimitable style.

    Adesanya spoke about Silva post fight and also his desire to mix it with Cannonier should he get past Robert Whittaker in his next bout.

    "Anderson Silva lived a great legacy and I want to do service to the middleweight division," he said. 

    "Jared Cannonier, I love his energy, he's a beautiful man. I said, 'You destroy Robert Whittaker, you're next.'"

  • UFC 253: Adesanya silences Costa with devastating TKO in dominant title defence UFC 253: Adesanya silences Costa with devastating TKO in dominant title defence

    Israel Adesanya retained his middleweight title after humbling undefeated Paulo Costa via a second-round TKO at UFC 253.

    UFC star Adesanya and Costa put their 100 per cent records on the line and fought for the middleweight belt at "Fight Island" in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.

    There had been plenty of pre-fight jibes, with Costa (13-1) accusing Adesanya (20-0) of ducking the challenge of former light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones.

    But Adesanya silenced Costa, who was hit with a counter-punch in the second round and never recovered in a one-sided contest in the octagon.

    Nigeria-born New Zealander Adesanya dominated from the outset, attacking Costa's left leg from the first 10 seconds and it set the tone.

    Costa – whose four wins in UFC had come via way of KO/TKO – tried to respond and landed a couple of kicks as the pair tested each other.

    Adesanya wore Costa down, with bruising visible on Costa's leg at the start of the second round before the former opened a cut on his opponent's head.

    With victory in sight, Adesanya got on top of Costa as he dropped to the canvas and struck relentlessly until the referee intervened and stopped the fight.

    After his underwhelming win over Yoel Romero in March, Adesanya said: "I've been telling you guys. Like Roy Jones said, ya'll must have forgot. Ya'll must have forgot.

    "I see you media people with your little clickbait headlines. I had to make ya'll remember."

    Meanwhile, Jan Blachowicz stopped Dominick Reyes to win the vacant light-heavyweight crown in the co-main event.

    Blachowicz triumphed via TKO in the second round as the Polish fighter became the first man other than Jones or Daniel Cormier to hold the title since 2011.

    "The only thing in my mind is, Jon Jones, where are you?" Blachowicz said after Jones vacated the title. "This is how we do it in Poland. I'm waiting for you."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.