The ordering process for Ultimate Fighting Championship pay-per-views has changed: UFC 246 is only available on ESPN+ in the U.S.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship on Saturday kicked off its 2020 campaign, as Conor McGregor made his long-awaited return to the Octagon opposite Donald Cerrone in the UFC 246 main event at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Some stocks surged, and others dipped.
Conor McGregor: The former two-division champion exploded out of the gate, as he stopped Cerrone in just 40 seconds upon returning from a 15-month layoff. While the win did not necessarily answer any questions regarding improvements McGregor may have made during his time away from competition, he remains one of the most dynamic and explosive strikers on the UFC roster. With a successful comeback now in the books, “Mystic Mac” has put himself in position for money fights against Jorge Masvidal, Khabib Nurmagomedov or Justin Gaethje. Given the fact that McGregor absorbed virtually no damage against Cerrone, he could be in line for a quick turnaround.
Diego Ferreira: In what was the most significant opportunity of his career, Ferreira came through when it mattered most and recorded a signature win over former UFC and World Extreme Cagefighting champion Anthony Pettis. The key to victory was his grappling prowess, as he managed to take down Pettis without much resistance, transitioned seamlessly to the back and secured the fight-ending rear-naked choke in the second round. Ferreira has been white-hot since he moved to Fortis MMA, and after nailing down his sixth straight win, he figures to find his way into the Top 15 at 155 pounds. The 35-year-old Brazilian has emerged as an unlikely contender in the stacked lightweight division.
Sodiq Yusuff: In keeping his undefeated UFC record intact, Yusuff put on a show on the UFC 246 prelims, proving that he was not only an explosive striker but a well-rounded threat to the featherweight elite. Wherever his fight with Andre Fili went, “Super Sodiq” had the answers, as he was dominant on the feet and made smooth transitions on the mat, successfully navigating the Team Alpha Male mainstay’s guard. Yusuff has recorded four consecutive wins since joining the UFC roster on the heels of his appearance on Dana White’s Contender Series. A victory over an established veteran like Fili figures to propel him to new heights as 2020 unfolds.
Donald Cerrone: Cerrone’s tendencies as a slow starter worked against him yet again, as he was sparked by McGregor right out of the gate and did little to dispel the talk that cannot win The Big One. It marked the third straight loss for “Cowboy”—all have come by TKO—and while his dedication to the sport has never been in question, it appears as though his time as top-shelf fighter may be coming to an end. There will always be entertaining matchups in the pipeline, but it is difficult to imagine the soon-to-be 37-year-old Cerrone sticking around at less than his best. Where he goes from here will be interesting to monitor.
Anthony Pettis: The former UFC and WEC champion suffered his second straight setback in a second-round submission loss to Ferreira, spoiling his return to 155 pounds. The Brazilian’s potent ground game proved to be Pettis’ kryptonite, leaving the Roufusport standout to take a long, hard look in the mirror before deciding on what comes next. Pettis has not recorded back-to-back wins since 2014 and now finds himself teetering on the brink of irrelevance. The 32-year-old Milwaukee native current position may leave him out of the running for the high-profile fights to which he has grown accustomed.
Andre Fili: The longtime Team Alpha Male rep has floated around the backend of the featherweight division’s Top 15 for some time, but against Yusuff, he failed once again failed to make the transition to full-fledged contender. Fili looked started strong—he wobbled the Lloyd Irvin protege with an early flurry—but failed to adjust once the action spilled onto the floor. The loss snapped a two-fight winning streak for the Californian, and six years into his UFC career, Fili may need to make some significant changes to his approach if he wants to realize his true potential.