Conor vs. Cowboy

40 seconds.

Jim Rome
January 20, 2020 - 10:30 am
Conor McGregor

USA Today


UFC 246: Conor v. Cowboy. Conor McGregor looking for his first win in the octagon in more than three years, going up against one of the toughest guys around. How would that go?

Well, to quote the man himself from back in the day, surprise, surprise motherbleeper, the king is back. 

How would it go? It would go quickly. Very quickly. Not quite Jose Aldo quickly, but not much longer. 40 seconds of extreme violence and it was over. 

Conor went into that cage with a plan and that plan was to leave that cage as quickly as possible and after causing as much damage as possible. He missed with a huge left to start, but then clinched with Cowboy and broke out a new weapon, his shoulder that appeared to break Cowboy’s nose. 

If you were surprised by that, you weren’t alone. So was Cowboy.

“One hundred percent [it surprised me. I’ve never seen anything like that.”

And neither have I. And then Conor smashed him with a left kick. 

And moments later, it was over. So much for cage rust. Conor knocked that off in seconds and nearly knocked off Cowboy’s head a few seconds after that. 

And for all the questions people had about how Conor would show up, his performance answered some and raised more. 

Like how do you explain a guy coming back from that time off, and coming back with a new weapon? That’s impressive. That might not have been his best fight ever, but he sure as hell looked good. Nobody is going to confuse Cowboy with Khabib or Masvidal or the other elites, but he is solid as hell. And Conor just took him apart, both with his skills and with his strategy. 

I’m not going to fall all over myself and say that was the best he’s ever looked or that was another legendary Conor moment, but it sure was a Conor moment. 

And put everyone on notice. That includes any fighter who wants some of him.

And anyone who has a “made up belt.”

“They can give fighters made up belts, but they can’t give fighters knockouts across three weight divisions.”

And he also had something for analyst who questioned his skill set.

“The so-called experts of the game when they break down my skill-set, they say I'm just a fighter with a left hand, which is highly disrespectful and uneducated. “ 

He went on. "I knew he was planning to knock me out with a head kick. I knew this is what Donald would have been envisioning. ... But at the same time I know that Donald has many discrepancies in his game, with the leans and dips under certain attacks that can also set him up for the high kick. So the high kick was something I thought I could catch him with, also."

And more: “I spent so much time in my boxing gym. I went back to my roots, Crumlin Boxing [Club], where I began. And then what happened tonight? I smacked him with my shoulder and I smacked him with my foot."

And how do you explain a guy looking that good after everything he’s done to himself over the last few years? Part of it is about the booze, according to Conor.

“I love that whiskey, but you’ve got to respect it. You’ve got to respect that liquid, because if you don’t, it will come and get you.”

So those stories about him hitting the sauce hard before the Khabib fight, that’s all true? Really? How is it possible that he was about to step into the cage with his most dangerous opponent and he was drinking all week? That still doesn’t make sense.

But as he said after the fight: “I had achieved it all and I broke the game before I was 30 years of age. Simple as that. One belt was not enough. … Maybe it was that. John [Kavanaugh], my coach, says it’s the worst nightmare for a coach when his student achieves it all: The money, the fame, and the belts. What then to motivate me?”

And so then the question becomes, who does he fight next? Is it Khabib? Or another guy?

Let’s go Nathan. Let’s go brother. That was a Conor McGregor who was feeling himself. Big time. And he should. Because I’m not sure that anyone expected a performance like that. Coming back, dominating, finishing it as quickly as he did, and breaking out the shoulder strikes.

What happened Saturday night in the cage doesn’t erase everything that has happened outside the cage. But for the first time in a long time, it was a good Conor headline.  

Again, I’m not going to say that was his best fight ever or most impressive performance ever, but when you consider the layoff since his last fight and all the obstacles he’s put in his own path, it was impressive as hell. If that’s not the full Conor McGregor in the cage, it’s a damn good reminder. That doesn’t mean he can beat Khabib; or Masvidal for that matter. It doesn’t mean the man is back: and while no one fighter is bigger than this sport, this sport is a helluva lot better when McGregor isn’t running dollies through buses, punching old  men in bars, not respecting the liquid and getting accused of other heinous stuff. And he may have a point; point being, the King may be back.  Now we just have to wait and see what’s next.