Adding to a Hall of Fame career with no end in sight, Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone (36-11, 1 NC) earned Fight of the Night honours yet again in his main event win over “Raging” Al Iaquinta (14-5-1) from the nation’s capital Saturday night. Cerrone now sits atop the promotion’s leader board in wins (23), finishes (16), knockdowns (20), FOTN bonuses (16), and with a three fight win streak, the cagey veteran is in a position to control his own destiny but what fight makes the most sense for the surging 36-year old “Cowboy”?
Conor McGregor (21-4) – #3 UFC Lightweight
Simple choice, and the subject of Cerrone’s own post-fight callout, a booking between Conor McGregor and “Cowboy” would move the needle in terms of viewership. With McGregor fishing for a rematch against Khabib Nurmagomedov following his devastating loss to the Russian Sambo practitioner at UFC 229, a fight between these two is a match made in heaven. McGregor’s star power coupled with Cerrone’s FOTN record would make for an intriguing top 10 lightweight contest.
Muddying the waters is Dustin Poirier’s recent win over Max Holloway at UFC 236 in which Poirier earned the promotion’s interim lightweight title. This development would lessen the chance that McGregor and Cerrone meet in a pay-per-view headliner (non-title fight); however, the most electric fight to make in the aftermath of this past weekend involves the sport’s biggest star and the people’s champ.
Justin Gaethje (20-2) – #5 UFC Lightweight
Justin Gaethje, MMA’s version of Raymond Daniels (who looked spectacular this weekend), a.k.a. “The Human Highlight Reel”. Since clearing out WSOF’s 155 lbs division, Gaethje joined the UFC in 2017 and has since earned four FOTN bonuses, and two POTN bonuses in five total fights. Gaethje’s all but abandoned his Division I All-American wrestling base and haunts forward in his fights, ducking his head and using a “take two to land one” approach to striking (8.50 sig. strikes landed per min compared to 10.23 sig. strikes landed per min).
As a result of his sometimes reckless style, Gaethje owns a 3-2 record in the UFC with all three wins and both losses coming by way of KO/TKO. In terms of fun fights, a pairing between Gaethje and Cerrone would sell well as a co-main event of a pay-per-view or main of a Fight Night card.
Tony Ferguson (24-3) – #2 UFC Lightweight
Can SnapJitsu prevail over the leader of the BMF Ranch? Tony Ferguson has been on a roll since dropping a unanimous decision to Michael Johnson in 2012 and has since gone on to beat his last 11 opponents including eight wins by finish. Ferguson’s UFC career line features 1.5 submission attempts per fight and a positive 1.55 sig. strike ratio which bodes well against Cerrone’s well-rounded 1.3 submission attempts per fight and a positive 1.06 sig. strike ratio.
For Ferguson, injuries and mental health issues derailed what could have been a productive 2018; however, “El Cucuy” was able to give a classic performance at UFC 229 with a come-from-behind win over former champ Anthony Pettis. Should the promotion book Ferguson and Cerrone, the most technical of combat sports fans will be the most pleased.