Has Conor McGregor ever looked any better than he does right now headed into a must-win comeback bout against Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone at UFC 246 in Las Vegas?
The UFC’s original “champ champ” has been earning all sorts of likes and comments on Instagram for the 31-year-old’s jacked new look headed into just his third UFC fight ever at 170 pounds. The suddenly hulked out Irishman is coming off a loss to UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229 in October 2018.
Judging by all the pictures McGregor has been posting in recent weeks, the former UFC featherweight and lightweight champion is absolutely serious about continuing to stake his claim to more fights among the heavier fixtures in the UFC’s welterweight ranks.
In fact, McGregor might never have been so swole in his entire life than he is right now.
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Bulking Isn’t Always Good in Fight Sports
But is gaining so much more muscle always a good thing in fight sports? Recent history suggests there might be cause for concern.
After all, the combat sports world witnessed one of the most shocking upsets in history last year when unified heavyweight boxing champion Anthony Joshua was toppled by late-replacement challenger Andy Ruiz at Madison Square Garden in New York in June.
Perhaps Joshua’s fate should serve as a cautionary tale for McGregor.
Because during the lead up to that fight, Joshua was making all the same kinds of social media moves that McGregor is right now. It was at that point that some in the sport wondered whether Joshua had become too interested in bodybuilding and that he might be better served by focusing more of his training efforts around the fight against Ruiz.
Indeed, when the fight was over, Ruiz had knocked out Joshua in one of the biggest upsets in boxing history.
But the most telling thing might be what happened in the rematch later that year.
Ahead of that fight, Joshua’s body began to change back into something that looked more like a professional prizefighter’s.
In fact, Joshua was noticeably more svelt for the rematch against Ruiz six months later in Saudi Arabia. According to the official weights captured during the pre-fight weigh-in one day prior to the fight, Joshua stunningly lost over 10 pounds before his second encounter Ruiz, and the move paid off in a big way.
A noticeably leaner and less muscular Joshua easily boxed his way to earning his heavyweight titles back via 12-round unanimous decision.
Coach Says This Version of McGregor Is Best Ever
Regardless, McGregor is already one of the most accomplished UFC champions in history.
Moreover, McGregor’s coach, John Kavanagh, recently revealed in an interview with The Mac Life, an MMA news website McGregor owns, that the McGregor he’s seen emerge over the last six months is the best fighter he’s ever trained.
“I think this is the best he’s ever been,” Kavanagh said during the interview.
If anything, McGregor is a much more seasoned fighter at this point in his career than Joshua was last year. He’s already competed in some of the biggest fights in PPV history, and he’s presumedly suffered the kinds of setbacks along the way that would have forced him to make tough decisions in regards to how he prepares for fights.
Despite what might have happened to Joshua last year, McGregor has to know heading into UFC 246 that he must win the fight if he expects to secure lucrative future fights against the likes of Nurmagomedov in a rematch, UFC BMF champ Jorge Masvidal, or even boxing’s Floyd Mayweather Jr. for another huge crossover megafight.
So maybe McGregor, Kavanagh and the rest of McGregor’s training team already know exactly what they’re doing headed into one of the most important fights of McGregor’s life.
McGregor’s stunning punching power, after all, has been the single most important aspect of his grand success. More specifically, McGregor’s penchant for running his opponents into hard left-hand counterpunches is how he’s made most of his money, and that isn’t necessarily something that a little more muscle would take away from him.
One thing certain. If McGregor truly is the best he’s ever been at UFC 246, Cerrone is likely in for a tough night.
Can McGregor Lasso the UFC’s ‘Cowboy’ at UFC 246?
McGregor takes on Cerrone at UFC 246 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
For McGregor to lasso the UFC’s real-life cowboy, though, McGregor will need to avoid going to the mat where Cerrone would presumedly have the advantage, while also keeping the fight at the long-distance and steady pace McGregor will most assuredly prefer.
But McGregor hasn’t won a fight since defeating Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205 in November 2016. He lost via 10-round knockout to Mayweather inside a boxing ring in August 2017 in one of the biggest selling PPV fights ever, and was submitted by Nurmagomedov in the fourth round back in October 2018 at UFC 229.
Still, Cerrone will also enter the main event of UFC 246 having lost two straight contests, though both were inside the Octagon.
Tony Ferguson scored a second-round knockout over Cerrone at UFC 238 in June 2018. Justin Gaetje stopped Cerrone in just one round at UFC Fight Night 158 in September 2019.
Regardless, both McGregor and Cerrone are incredibly popular action fighters with many more huge opportunities for massive fights ahead of them so long as they can score a win at UFC 246.
Of course, only one of them can do that, so McGregor will have to hope his newfound muscle mass won’t be a hindrance to his overall endeavor.