Monday, May 16, 2022

Sonnen Names The Biggest Issue With A McGregor Tune-Up Fight

Former UFC star Chael Sonnen has explained why a tune-up fight isn’t a very viable option for the Octagon return of former two-division champion Conor McGregor.

McGregor, who once held both lightweight and featherweight titles simultaneously, has been out of action since his trilogy contest with Dustin Poirier at UFC 264. At the end of the first round, the Irishman suffered a gruesome broken leg, marking his second defeat of 2021 and his third in four outings since 2018.

Now, after successful surgery and nine months of recovery and rehab, it appears that we’re not far away from the “Notorious” Dubliner making his return.

Given the severity of his injury and a lengthy layoff, many have suggested that McGregor should look to ease back into activity by facing a low-level opponent in a tune-up fight of sorts.

For former light heavyweight and middleweight title challenger Sonnen, that idea brings with it some issues.

Sonnen: Who Is Gonna Pay McGregor $20M For A Tune-Up?

During a recent video uploaded to his YouTube channel, Sonnen addressed talk of McGregor’s return and discussed the concept of a tune-up fight.

While he understands why it’s being put forward, especially after the way McGregor was defeated upon his return at UFC 257 last January, the 45-year-old questioned why McGregor would risk losing a title shot by facing a lesser opponent.

“I heard a discussion about who Conor should fight next,” said Sonnen. “Somebody laid out the following scenario: that he should have, and I quote, ‘A tune-up fight. Boxers do it all the time. Conor should not come in against Kamaru Usman, he should warm up with somebody else…’

“Let me ask you a question: If you could fight for a world championship right now, or you could go fight somebody else that you’re likely to beat, and if you do, you can go fight for the world championship—do you know what a weirdo you’d have to be to choose to put yourself at risk?

“I don’t hate the concept. I do feel that Conor, who wanted to stay very busy in 2020… Then the pandemic hits and everything gets weird and everything gets delayed… a full year went by… then all of a sudden, he pops in and takes a very hard fight in Dustin Poirier… In hindsight, it did appear pretty clear that keeping Conor out, first mistake, but Conor jumped in too deep,” suggested Sonnen. “If we’re gonna learn from (UFC 257), then definitely, I do subscribe, in theory, to this ‘tune-up fight’ business.”

However, the biggest issue Sonnen identified with a tune-up fight surrounds money. With McGregor looking at a hefty sum and main event upon his return, Sonnen asked who would be willing to meet the Irishman’s lucrative demands for a fight labeled as a warm-up.

“Conor’s looking at very close to $20 million for his return fight. So who the hell is gonna wanna pay Conor $20 million for a return fight that’s being advertised as a tune-up fight? It’s just one of those things,” said Sonnen. “It gets very weird, very fast… I really do think that he could walk right into a world title fight. What I’m asking is, what reasonable person would suggest to him that he should not do that?”

Given McGregor’s posts on social media, it seems as though a tune-up contest is far from his plans. After initially setting his sights on lightweight king Charles Oliveira, the former champ-champ has since trained his aim on welterweight titleholder Kamaru Usman.

Do you agree with Chael Sonnen? Is a tune-up fight unlikely for Conor McGregor’s return?

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