Despite all the excess baggage he brings to a fight, Conor McGregor is still the UFC's main event. A brash, confident, yet undeniably talented MMA fighter, The Notorious is a huge draw for the promotion, and now he's back. After a brief excursion into the world of boxing and almost two years away from Octagon, McGregor will face Khabib Nurmagomedov for the World Lightweight Championship on October 6 in Las Vegas.
McGregor is the biggest pay-per-view figure in UFC history because of his skill and his penchant for hyping up every fight he has ever been a part of. With Nurmagomedov being perhaps the most dominant fighter in the UFC today, this could be the best matchup in recent memory.
That being said, should the fight happen this early, this soon?
We must not forget that McGregor is coming off a loss to Floyd Mayweather and—before beating Eddie Alvarez in UFC 205—two grueling bouts against Nate Diaz, one submission loss and another razor-thin decision win. And now he gets to face off a nightmare in Nurmagomedov after some time away from the UFC.
The man they call the Eagle is a pressure fighter with an endless gas tank. He is relentless in taking the fight to the ground and will keep doing that for the entire fight. Nurmagomedov also has some heavy hands and a granite chin. He will try to impose his will against McGregor by being the aggressor.
McGregor is no slouch in take-down defense, but he's no wrestler or grappler. His stopping power is based on intelligent footwork, keeping his distance, then unleashing a devastating counter. That style won't work on someone that keeps charging and eating his shots.
There's also the issue of ring rust. Will McGregor be able to capture the scintillating form right away? Or will he take a few minutes (or rounds) to get his bearings? He can't afford to take his time with Nurmagomedov as the Russian presses from the get-go.
So in light of all of this, back to the question: does this fight need to happen now?
The UFC should rethink the move and give McGregor at least one match before Nurmagomedov. A tune-up, if you will. This fight is too soon for someone coming off a long layoff, even someone as talented as the Irishman.
Although there's no way that McGregor didn't ask for this. He may be more powerful than the UFC at this point, because he knows that where he goes, the brand goes. The Notorious has been doubted before and has triumphed in every challenge. He's undeniably entertaining and gifted—it's indubitable that this will be the biggest fight for the promotion this year.