At UFC on Fox 17 this weekend, Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone will finally get a chance at a title shot in the UFC. Long one of the promotion’s most popular and active fighters, his “any time, anywhere” attitude has him on the cusp of being a top-tier star in the promotion. If he should defeat Rafael dos Anjos for the lightweight crown, it may just push him to the next level in the public eye. He certainly has the personality.

Yet while he has consistently performed and drawn plenty of eyeballs to the promotion, other names have shot past him in terms of popular consciousness: Ronda Rousey. Sage Northcutt. Paige VanZant. Conor McGregor.

That last one, in this case, is the one that matters.

While Cowboy was laying waste to the lightweight division (he’s currently on an eight fight win streak), McGregor was just getting started in the UFC. The brash, trash-talking Irish fighter was talking about conquering the UFC’s featherweight division, and more, back in 2013 when he joined the promotion with a ton of fanfare. At UFC 194, he did just that, shocking the world with a record-setting (for a title fight) thirteen second knockout of Jose Aldo, the only featherweight champ the UFC had ever known.

McGregor has lived up to the hype. Cowboy, meanwhile, is one of those fighters always on the cusp of great things. Should he get there, it’s time to bring to two together, log-jams in their respective weight classes be damned.

Here’s why:

For years, the UFC has been in search of that mystical beast known as the “superfight” — with talk of Couture vs. Fedor, Lesnar vs. Fedor, GSP vs. Silva, Aldo vs. Pettis, even Rousey vs. Cyborg all coming to nothing. The closest to date has been, perhaps, Penn vs. GSP, but when you get right down to it, the superfights that people want to see the most have fallen apart each and every time.

Yet for once, the stars may align with a Cerrone win. Cerrone has a certain disdain for McGregor, not surprisingly given the amount of talking the Irish fighter does. Cowboy, in comparison, tends to do his talking come cage time, but he’s not one to shy away from controversy, recently calling McGregor a “p***y” in the lead-up to UFC on Fox 17.

In short, it’s a promoter’s dream. With these two characters, the fight sells itself.

Money isn’t the only motivator however. McGregor has been a two-weight class champ before, outside the UFC. And while the promotion has in the past demanded that fights like this either come at a catch weight, or that one champ drop the belt to move weight classes, it would be prudent to waive the condition this time around. McGregor has captured the imagination of fans like no other recent fighter save for Ronda Rousey. He comes with a nation at his back, similar to Georges St. Pierre with the hometown support, but with a greater following in the U.S. Given the harsh weight cut he makes to reach featherweight, allowing him to dabble at lightweight might be good for the sport overall and good for him as an athlete. Yes, there’ll be talk of log-jams for contenders, but lets face it: Jose Aldo was one of the UFC’s least active champions, averaging less than two fights a year since joining the UFC following the company’s acquisition of the WEC and eventual merger with them.

This sort of match-up doesn’t mean Frankie Edgar gets the cold shoulder, either. That, frankly, would be a crime. No, as long as McGregor is willing and able to (potentially) defend both belts, let him. If he can fight three times a year, as he did in 2015, that means each title (again, were he to win) could potentially be defended twice every eighteen months — which, realistically, is not far off from what a lot of divisions see anyway.

What this really boils down to, mind you, is an opportunity. It’s a chance to not let another superfight — one between two of the most popular fighters in the company — slip away. So give the devil his due, and let Conor McGregor face Cowboy Cerrone should Cerrone win anyway. In the event Cowboy loses (and dos Anjos is not easy out, to be sure), then let McGregor face Edgar, which is practically a superfight anyway given Edgar’s status as a former lightweight champ.

In any event, the UFC is on a roll with McGregor, and they might as well let it ride.

About The Author

Senior Staff Writer

Covering the sport of MMA from Ontario, Canada, Jay Anderson has been writing for various publications covering sports, technology, and pop culture since 2001. Jay holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Guelph, and a Certificate in Leadership Skills from Humber College under the Ontario Management Development Program. When not slaving at the keyboard, he can be found in the company of his dog, a good book, or getting lost in the woods.