On January 18, former two-division UFC champion Conor McGregor will return to the Octagon for a welterweight fight with Donald Cerrone. Ahead of this fight, UFC President Dana White has stated that, if McGregor wins this welterweight battle, he could get the next shot at lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov.
This possibility has troubled some members of the MMA community for a number of reasons. First, McGregor’s fight with Cerrone is at welterweight, not lightweight. Additionally, McGregor experienced a decisive loss to Nurmagomedov just over a year ago. Lastly and perhaps most controversially, lightweight contender Justin Gaethje is on a three-fight win-streak, and is arguably far more deserving a title shot than McGregor, at least in terms of rankings.
Cerrone, the man tasked with welcoming McGregor back to the cage, understands why some fans think Gaethje should get the next title shot, but also understands why the UFC might give the shot to McGregor if he’s victorious.
“If you’re talking rankings and deserving, sure,” Cerrone told MMA Junkie of Gaethje deserving a title shot. “If you’re talking popularity and the business side of it and making money, yeah. It’s two different games. The UFC gets to pick and choose and do that they want for what makes financially more sense for them. That’s just what this game has turned into.”
Cerrone, coincidentally, was knocked out by Gaethje in his most recent fight, which gives further ammunition to fans that feel Gaethje deserves a title shot.
Before McGregor or Gaethje can challenge for the lightweight title, of course, Nurmagomedov will have to thwart the massive challenge presented by streaking contender Tony Ferguson. The pair will meet in the main event of UFC 249 on April 18.
Do you think the UFC should give Conor McGregor a lightweight title shot if he beats Donald Cerrone in January?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.com on 12/26/2019.