Quijano: Questions remain

Jingo Quijano

LET’S be honest here. Donald Cerrone was an accomplished fighter but he certainly wasn’t on the level of Conor McGregor.

His only chance was to hope to survive until the later rounds, where he could potentially capitalize on a tiring McGregor. Unfortunately, he didn’t even last a minute.

As I averred to in my previous column, the UFC wisely and shrewdly played up the angle of “Cowboy” having the most wins and most stoppages on record, but conveniently omitted the fact that he had lost his two previous outings before fighting the Notorious One.

Plus at 36, his best years are clearly behind him. Not to take anything away from Conor, but Cerrone was the perfect comeback opponent for him. Still, that stoppage within 40 seconds was impressive enough and so now the UFC’s biggest cash cow is back in business.

CONOR. As we all know, Conor is masterful in the stand-up game. He has fight-ending power especially in that left hand. He is a prolific puncher. But against Cerrone, he utilized other weapons in his arsenal. First were the shoulder strikes. Actually, that’s not new in the game. Fighters do it all the time--striking and hitting opponents with shoulders, arms, elbows etc. Remember that your entire body is a weapon and you can attack utilizing any part of your body as long as it’s a legal strike. MMA legend Randy Couture also employed that offensive tactic.

The kick to the side of the head was the coup de grace as it knocked the wind out of Cerrone. The succeeding strikes were just follow-ups, but the kick was the one that pretty much ended the fight.

Although Conor throws that often in fights, we seldom see that as a finishing blow for him.

ASSESSMENT. As spectacular as that finish was, I don’t think that fight was a decent metric for us to measure how good Conor is right now. We already know he is capable of knocking out his opponent, especially one who stands in front of him.

What needs to be asked is whether his ground game and stamina have improved. The Cerrone stoppage provided us with no more clarity than where we were the last time he stepped inside the cage. It sure served its purpose when we talk about marketability, but other than that, we are left wondering if he can still compete at the highest level after being easily dominated by Khabib Nurmagomedov.

Conor reportedly wants to stay at 170lb, which to me isn’t his best weight class. When you have been out of active competition for more than a year and you return at a higher weight class indicates that a fighter isn’t that keen about cutting weight anymore. In and of itself that could mean nothing, but at welterweight, Conor will be facing naturally bigger opponents more capable of handling his power.

Jorge Masvidal who was cage-side is a potential opponent at welterweight but I think the fight that fans really want is a rematch with Khabib for the lightweight crown.

VERBATIM. “I make a considerably larger paycheck with Conor but if it’s on the personal side, if it’s all potatoes and tomatoes being the same, I would take a lot more pleasure in dismantling Usman’s face than I would Conor’s.” -Jorge Masvidal (www.MMAFighting.com)

LAST ROUND. It’s on a dear friend Mimi Maureen Lim Co, who recently celebrated his birthday. Cheers!