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Following Conor McGregor’s win at UFC 246, is “The King” truly back?

Some may not admit it, but there were doubts leading up to Conor McGregor’s return fight against Donald Cerrone at UFC 246. From his one-sided loss against Khabib to the string of legal issues that followed, it was unsure what kind of fighter we were going to get. Even his innocent demeanor and workout videos before to the fight weren’t convincing enough.

All doubt was thrown out the door as McGregor took out Cerrone 40 seconds into the fight. The crowd inside the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas who supported their star had a sense of hope again. Already, ideas filled in their head of his next fight and the next fight after. One common feeling after the fight, from the fans to the commentators to Conor himself: “The King” is back!

Is he really though?

Yes, McGregor beat an established fighter in Cerrone, who is a legend in his own right. But does one win, his first since 2016, allow him to sit on the figurative throne? That question expands when you look at the plethora of fighters interested in fighting him. McGregor’s plan is to win fights before he goes for a title, whether held by the winner of Khabib v. Tony Ferguson at UFC 249 or Kamaru Usman. Would win’s against those fighters, the champions, propel him to the top once again?

The answer is obviously yes. McGregor is “back” in the sense that he is relevant inside the octagon again. It is what he does after UFC 246 that people should really be talking about. No distractions to take him away from fights, like journeying into boxing. If he wants to fight three times in 2020, the idea should be to keep it going and not waiting for prolonged periods of time. UFC President Dana White mentioned in the UFC 246 post-fight presser that he believes Khabib v. Conor II is the fight to make. With Conor looking well at 170, however, wouldn’t a clash within the division make sense?

And no, I’m not talking about Welterweight Champion Kamaru Usman, but another fighter who can, in a sense, call himself a champion. Masvidal, the BMF Champion, makes the most sense as another test for Conor. The fans want it, the media wants it and so does Conor. A man on a three-fight win streak, Masvidal has become a true fan-favorite since his bouts with Stephen Thompson and Ben Askren. Underappreciated for a while, “Gamebread” is finally gaining superstardom status. McGregor fighting Masvidal would be the man of the past v. the man of the present. Put the BMF Title on the line if you need to, Conor would love to add another trophy to his mantle. If Conor can beat Masvidal, his plans have validity as well as his claims of being back.

A fight and win against Masvidal could result in a title shot, whoever it may be. The end goal is to be champion. The climb up the ladder is the hardest part of the journey. By winning a legitimate title, “The King” can truly return to the promised land.

The Irishman’s words can become true if and only if he reaches the top of that ladder once more. For now, we can hold back on the coronation, as Conor McGregor’s quest is far from over.

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Baseball Editor, Misc. Sports Editor. Covers all things combat sports (MMA, Pro Wrestling and Boxing). When he's not writing, Daniel hosts a podcast, The Main Event.
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