Who Would Win: Conor McGregor or Jorge Masvidal?

Kelsey McCarsonFeatured ColumnistNovember 6, 2019

Mixed martial arts star Conor McGregor of Ireland attends a media briefing in central Moscow on October 24, 2019 to announce his next MMA combat schedule on January 18, 2020 in Las-Vegas. (Photo by Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP) (Photo by KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP via Getty Images)
KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/Getty Images

After Jorge Masvidal defeated Nate Diaz at UFC 244 on Saturday night in New York, the world was outraged over probably having been robbed of what appeared to be an MMA classic.

Sure, Masvidal’s sharp punches had opened up a huge gash over Diaz’s right eye that made the fight a bloody mess. But Diaz had been bloodied up before and had amazingly withstood barrages like these in other fights only to storm back to stunning victories. 

But the ringside doctor didn’t seem to know or care about any of that. The fight was stopped at the end of the third round with Masvidal declared the TKO winner. 

Now MMA fans are wondering what’s next for Masvidal. Will the newly crowned BMF titleholder sign an immediate rematch with Diaz? Or did the huge main event win pave the way for even bigger and better fights?

After all, Conor McGregor is interested in heading back into the Octagon at the beginning of next year and has gone so far as to call out Masvidal via social media posts on Twitter. 

Come to think of it, maybe Conor is onto something. 

Masvidal vs. McGregor is a super intriguing matchup. Could Masvidal’s pinpoint accuracy and explosive techniques spell doom for the counter striking southpaw? Or would McGregor just add another name to the list of UFC fighters he called out with through his many antics and ended up crushing?

I mean, seriously. Who wins Masvidal vs. McGregor?

Tom Taylor: I rarely agree with UFC President Dana White, and on the uncommon occasions that I do, I don’t feel good about it. Something about siding with an ultra-rich corporate overlord just doesn’t sit well with me.

But alas, I’m with him on this one. At least, I agree with the sentiment he expressed when a potential Masvidal vs. McGregor fight was first broached earlier this year.

Masvidal is too big for McGregor.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 02: Jorge Masvidal poses for a portrait backstage during the UFC 244 event at Madison Square Garden on November 02, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Mike Roach/Getty Images

Yes, the American Top Team veteran used to fight at lightweight, but over the last few years he’s ballooned into a full-sized welterweight. McGregor, meanwhile, has fought as light as featherweight in the past. And that size disadvantage is merely the first of several problems I envision for him in this matchup.  

McGregor supporters will probably argue that he would have a striking advantage against Masvidal. But would he really?

Perhaps on a minuscule level, but against a bigger, stronger opponent like Masvidal, who has some deadly striking himself, I don’t see the Irishman’s slight striking edge mattering all that much, especially when you factor in Masvidal’s proven durability. Even if McGregor starts landing—powerful as he is—it’s hard to imagine him cracking his rival’s chin when fighters like Darren Till, Stephen Thompson, Donald Cerrone, Lorenz Larkin, Al Iaquinta, Paul Daley and countless others have failed to.

When we talk about Masvidal, we’re talking about a fighter who has succumbed to strikes just once in a 48-fight career. That was over a decade ago.

Then there’s the grappling. I actually believe McGregor’s grappling his underrated. It’s not nearly as poor as his losses to Diaz and Khabib Nurmagomedov indicate. Yet against Masvidal, he’d probably be at a stark disadvantage in this department. Masvidal is certainly a superior wrestler, certainly a better submission fighter, and when you factor in the size disparity that Uncle Dana and I so enthusiastically agree upon, it’s hard not to picture an ugly night for the Irishman, no matter where the fight takes place. 

Lyle Fitzsimmons: Oh good lord, do I feel Tom’s pain.

Because as icky as my B/R colleague feels about agreeing with the likes of Dana White, I feel equally unclean with the idea that I’d be riding with Team Notorious if this thing actually comes off.

Certainly not because Conor’s a good dude or anything approaching a role model, but rather for the very same reason he’s at home in any club that includes guys like Masvidal and Nate Diaz.

He’s a certified bad mother f---er.

While I concede that his signature days are getting to be a long time ago, few could seriously argue that during McGregor’s run as a combat sports supernova, his total package of octagonal acumen was as dangerous as anyone’s on the planet.

The 13-second obliteration of Jose Aldo was instant classic violence, and—initial loss to Diaz notwithstanding—the volume of toughness and grit he showed in evening up their series in the rematch cast aside any suspicion that he was nothing beyond than a trash-talking front-runner.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - DECEMBER 12:  Conor McGregor of Ireland is introduced to the crowd before facing Jose Aldo of Brazil in their featherweight championship bout during the UFC 194 event inside MGM Grand Garden Arena on December 12, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nev
Jeff Bottari/Getty Images

Lest anyone forget, then-champion Eddie Alvarez arrived to their subsequent UFC 205 main event with six wins in seven fights, but McGregor handled the lightweight king with the ease of a sparring partner.

Masvidal is surely the flavor of the month thanks to the roll he’s been on in 2019, but the 13 losses on his record are hardly indicative of a disaster that can’t be averted. He was worked on the mat by Demian Maia in a May 2017 loss, then handled decisively with strikes by Stephen Thompson six months later.

Wins over Darren Till and Ben Askren were nice enough in the meantime, but more than a few people believe last weekend would have wound up different had the doctor been a touch less squeamish.

So, while he’s admittedly a shirt size or two smaller than his “Gamebred” opponent, McGregor is simply on a different plane when it comes to dynamic athleticism. There’s levels to this, and his is much higher. 

Kelsey McCarson: I have to admit to having been thinking about this potential blockbuster from the moment Masvidal defeated Diaz.

What fascinates me most about it is that Masvidal is such a glorious attacker and that he does it in such an intelligent way. Some fighters are great at coming forward and being aggressive but don't possess any real knowledge of what they are doing or why they are doing it.

They just do whatever comes natural to them in the moment, and it can be a very beautiful thing watch, especially when such a fighter happens to find a nice flow for the attacks. 

But Masvidal is a careful planner, and his ability to come into big fights with incredibly smart game plans suggests he's way more than just one of these remarkable people.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JULY 06:  Jorge Masvidal of the United States knocks out  Ben Askren of the United States during their UFC 239 Welterweight Bout at T-Mobile Arena on July 06, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Seeing how confidently and deliberately he drove his knee into Askren's head right at the very start of their fight earlier this year because he knew Askren's first move was almost always changing levels for a takedown attempt was mesmerizing. 

Watching him invite Diaz to attempt hand control so he could immediately lob a counterpunch followed by a vicious body kick was just as sweet.

So honestly, when I consider that he's bigger and stronger than McGregor as Tom suggests and on a pretty decent hot streak as flavor of the month as noted by Lyle, it's really hard for me to pick against him.

But thing about McGregor that gives me pause is how well what he does best fits with what Masvidal's aggressive tendencies are. 

Stylistically, I almost always will pick the counter fighter over the person who attacks for the simple reason that it takes so much more effort and perfection to lead like that than it does to react to what someone else does and counter.

McGregor might not be what he was at his peak, but he's still arguably the best counter striker in MMA today. More importantly, his athleticism and power make him dangerous every minute of every round, and I think we should all just face the fact that whatever seems to go on in the Irishman's life outside the Octagon, he always shows up ready to roll on fight night. 

So while I love the idea that Masvidal is just on another level right now and would be just way too much for even McGregor to handle, ultimately I lean hard toward McGregor running him into a hard right hand at some point in the fight and finishing him soon after.

Of course, what would be even better than just us three talking about it and making stuff up would be if the fight actually happened. 

I'm not sure there'd be anything like the BMF title on the line for this fight, but I am sure it wouldn't need it. 

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