You can buy the UFC 246 PPV through ESPN+ right here. For an event preview, read on below.
Conor McGregor’s long-awaited return to the Octagon against Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone at UFC 246 is set for Saturday at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. It kicks off what appears to be a truly awe-inspiring early-2020 schedule for the world’s largest MMA promotion.
UFC 246 takes place January 18 at 10 p.m. Eastern time. It will air as a pay-per-view on ESPN+.
But with all the other big fights already on the future docket, and more sure to be announced over the coming weeks, perhaps some are wondering whether McGregor’s first fight back since losing to Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229 is worth the five extra dollars it will cost.
Here’s why UFC 246 is worth what basically amounts to the cost of an extra cup of coffee.
1. UFC 246 Is Conor McGregor’s 2020 Litmus Test
Is McGregor still elite? That’s the main question on every UFC fan’s mind heading into his UFC 246 bout against Cerrone.
McGregor still holds the No. 13 spot in the UFC’s pound-for-pound rankings, but the plain truth of the matter is that nobody really knows if he still possesses the skills that made McGregor such a dangerous fighter at his peak.
The reason? McGregor hasn’t won a fight since beating Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205 in November 2016 to become the original “champ champ”. He’s only fought twice since that date and only once in the UFC.
In August 2017, McGregor offered a spirited effort against Floyd Mayweather Jr. inside a boxing ring in one of the biggest combat sports events of the decade. But Mayweather took over halfway through the fight and stopped McGregor in the tenth round.
McGregor then lost to Nurmagomedov at UFC 229 in October 2018. It was the highest-selling UFC PPV event ever, but McGregor simply couldn’t find the answer for the undefeated Russian’s brutally effective smash-and-grab technique. Nurmagomedov choked out McGregor in the fourth.
So UFC 246 offers McGregor the chance to get back to doing what he does best and gives everyone else in the world the opportunity to judge if he’s still elite.
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2. Donald Cerrone Is a Well-Rounded & Dangerous Opponent
Face it – while any McGregor fight is worth watching on its own, a battle against as formidable an opponent in Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone makes things even sweeter at UFC 246.
Cerrone’s well-rounded skill set offers McGregor a huge chance to remind the MMA world just how elite a superstar he still is in the UFC. While Cerrone isn’t quite the same threat Mayweather was inside a boxing ring or Nurmagomedov was inside the Octagon, he’s still an incredibly dangerous opponent who has shown many times over the years that he’s capable of beating just about anyone in the world not seriously considered a top contender.
In fact, if McGregor hopes to recapture his former UFC glory, he absolutely needs to turn in an impressive showing at UFC 246. One might even argue that it’s not enough for him to just win the fight. For McGregor to stay at the top of the sport, he’ll need to make mincemeat out of Cerrone.
But that’s easier said than done.
Cerrone is a solid grappler and excellent kickboxer with heavy strikes that have put plenty of other guys to sleep. More than that, Cerrone didn’t have to drain himself to make the 155-pound limit at lightweight this time around, so “Cowboy” should be at full force on Saturday night.
3. McGregor-Cerrone Sure To Be Violent Spectacle
No matter how long the main event of UFC 246 lasts, it’s sure to produce some wildly fun violence.
Often something lost in the minutiae of all the amazing accomplishments the 31-year-old McGregor has achieved over the course of his MMA career is that he’s also one of the few fighters in the sport who consistently produces action-packed fights.
In fact, McGregor’s last voyage into the 170-pound welterweight division against Nate Diaz at UFC 202 in August 2016 was one of the most satisfying main events of the last decade. After McGregor lost to Diaz nine months prior via second-round submission, some in the sport had wondered if ‘Notorious’ had simply gone up too far in weight. But McGregor came into the rematch at UFC 202 with renewed vigor and ultimately won an incredible five-round decision in what some considered at the time to be his finest win.
Cerrone is also one of the UFC’s best all-around action fighters.
The real-life cowboy holds UFC records for most wins and finishes in company history, with 23 and 16, respectively. On top of that, the 36-year-old American has won more bonuses inside the cage than any other UFC fighter ever at 18.
Six of those 18 bonuses were for Fight of the Night, so there’s really no telling how awesome of a throwdown McGregor-Cerrone might turn out to be.
Fight of the Year? That absolutely could happen on Jan. 18 when McGregor takes on Cerrone.
4. Winner Earns More Huge Opportunities Down the Line
There’s no doubt the winner of UFC 246 will figure heavily into the UFC’s plans for huge fights down the line.
While McGregor vs. Cerrone is being fought in the 170-pound welterweight division, both are ranked by the UFC as lightweights. According to the UFC’s official rankings, McGregor is the No. 4 contender with Cerrone following at No. 5.
Lightweight champ Nurmagomevov is scheduled to face No. 1 contender Tony Ferguson in April at UFC 249. The winner of that fight would need a title defense later in the year, and both McGregor and Cerrone figure heavily into those plans.
Meanwhile, Dustin Poirer and Justin Gaethje don’t have opponents for their next fights. Both are popular lightweights who will also need dance partners in 2020. Poirer is coming off a loss to Nurmagomevov at UFC 242 in September where the American arguably gave the champ his toughest test yet. Gaethje knocked Cerrone out in his last fight only to see Cerrone get the nod for McGregor’s big comeback bout.
But beyond fights against the top lightweights, both McGregor and Cerrone already have some history in the welterweight division, so each man could theoretically continue to ply his trade at 170 after winning UFC 246.
That’s especially true for McGregor. After all, UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman has already taken to social media to threaten McGregor about staying in his lane, and UFC BMF champ Jorge Masvidal also seems interested in landing a superfight against the UFC’s biggest cash cow.
The winner of UFC 246 will be in prime position to get the best fight possible for his next bout.
5. 2 Hugely Popular UFC Stars Finally Collide
Beyond all those particulars, the demand for McGregor and Cerrone fights is always high because both seem to attract emotional connections from fans. Both are exceptionally popular in the MMA community, with McGregor also being considered a mainstream crossover celebrity.
So pitting them against each other invites the kind of fan engagement typically not seen in even the UFC’s biggest events. The most popular MMA fighter on the planet against an American cowboy who people seem to universally admire all around the globe?
That alone would be a good enough reason to splurge on UFC 246. Besides, it’s the first big PPV event of 2020, and just to be safe, we gave you four other great reasons, too.