Historically, the UFC has gone out of its way to ensure that fight fans know when a Conor McGregor fight is approaching. Normally, the UFC public relations team would have “Mystic Mac” booked for all sorts of television and radio appearances, and the advertisements and news articles would be non-stop, in your face.
But UFC 246 feels different.
This Saturday, January 18, at UFC 246, McGregor returns to the octagon for the first time since his October 2018 loss to UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov. The 31-year old Irishman faces another fan favorite in Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone in the main event at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Unlike his blockbuster boxing bout against Floyd Mayweather Jr., the world tour leading up to his championship fight with Jose Aldo, the wars with Nate Diaz, the hype of UFC 205 at MSG against Alvarez, or the most recent outing against Nurmagomedov, it feels as if, Conor simply isn’t even there.
Where is the trash talk that we are used to? The sound bites, the one-liners?
Maybe McGregor and Cerrone respect each other too much, but maybe that isn’t it at all.
According to MMA reporter Jim Edwards, McGregor has chosen to be a part of the UFC’s media day leading up to the fight this week, something he does not always do. The media day event takes place Thursday, January 16, one day after the press conference at the Palms Casino which McGregor will also take part in.
Conor McGregor will be a part of #UFC246 Ultimate Media Day. This will be the first time he’s been available for a fight week media day for years. I believe, it was the Denis Siver fight in Jan 2015 when media last spoke to him during fight week outside of a press conference. pic.twitter.com/O3dVi7hYCr
— Jim Edwards (@MMA_Jim) January 10, 2020
It is uncertain at this time whether or not media and or fans will be able to ask McGregor questions. McGregor has been relatively quiet, especially on social media, following allegations that he is being investigated for sexual assault, and for the incident in a bar last year in Ireland where the former UFC champion punch a man for declining a shot of his Irish Whiskey.
For his role in the fight, Cerrone doesn’t really need to do much promotion. He is likely going to earn pay-per-view points, and with McGregor being the draw he is, “Cowboy” will walk away just fine.
But if there is one thing these fighters can do this week to help ensure buys come through from those fans who are currently on the fence, it is “talk.”
Whether they like or respect each other or not, Cerrone and McGregor need to engage in verbal battle while the cameras are rolling.
McGregor is his own hype machine, but fans are tuning in because they expect to see a war between these two gladiators.
Let’s face it. A fight between Donald Cerrone and Conor McGregor is only happening because of the violent possibilities that we have all envisioned.
People are going to tune in to the fight regardless, but how well the pay-per-view does really depends on what goes on this week.
With the limited amount of commercials and promotion you see from the UFC’s end, it is ultimately up to the combatants to self-promote what should be an otherwise easy fight to sell and or promote.
Whether Conor’s recent legal matters played part into how the UFC chose to handle the event or not may never be known as the promotion is not likely to disclose that information, but one thing feels certain, with all the online sportsbooks are almost guaranteeing a win for the Irishman. UFC President Dana White has even gone on to say that he feels Cowboy is being disrespected.
With both fighters coming off losses it is hard to say exactly where each fighter stands heading into Saturday night, but if history has taught us one thing, it is don’t ever count “Cowboy” out of a fight.