After his 40-second destruction of Donald Cerrone at the weekend, attention has quickly turned to who Conor McGregor will take on next and Betfair has priced up a bout with Jorge Masvidal. Jason Pettigrove assesses the match-up...
"Masvidal will want to go to war from the outset and not have to go hunting his prey, and that’s where McGregor’s sharper instincts and more dynamic athleticism could swing the bout in his favour."
Forty seconds is all it took for Conor McGregor to answer any doubts as to whether the fire still burned for the 'The Notorious.'
The way in which he dismantled Donald Cerrone suggested that the American's moniker of the Cowboy was perfectly apt.
A quick night's work was expected for the Dubliner, but the speed with which he launched himself into the opening exchanges, his shoulder strikes breaking Cerrone's nose in the process, saw the bout over as a contest as the crowd were still taking their seats.
Far from disappointed, McGregor's followers will see such a masterful execution of his skills as the aperitif for bigger and better things.
Let's not kid ourselves either.
Cerrone may have lost two bouts in succession going into that fight, but with the most successful head kick knockouts in his 51 previous bouts, as well as winning the most before the distance, he still represented something of a threat.
Masvidal the next likely test
Although a rematch v Khabib Nurmagomedov is high on McGregor's agenda, and money-spinning boxing fights against Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather remain an option, as well as a potential two-fight deal with Terence 'Bud' Crawford, Jorge Masvidal calling out the Irishman directly after his destruction of Cerrone appears to have the desired effect.
'Gamebred' hasn't been backwards in coming forwards, suggesting that Conor is merely flirting with the idea of taking him on. That's like waving a red rag to a bull, and the Crumlin-born McGregor may well have taken note.
He will have his work cut out, mind. Masvidal's frame is likely to cause his opponent problems, both in a grappling sense and when it comes to striking.
The American has bulked up to such an extent that there's every reason to believe he would come into any bout bigger and stronger than McGregor.
However, Conor moves enthusiastically around the Octagon when required, and he'll choose his moments carefully and wisely.
Masvidal will want to go to war from the outset and not have to go hunting his prey, and that's where McGregor's sharper instincts and more dynamic athleticism could swing the bout in his favour.
Contrasting styles suit the Irishman
In terms of style, Masvidal may have beaten a southpaw in Darren Till, but that victory wasn't without its problems, not least being knocked to the canvas via a straight left from the Englishman.
Till carries a robust weapon but isn't as sharp in his delivery as the Irishman, though the American's ability to switch stance was ultimately what won him the fight.
Both he and McGregor have the same reach and while Gamebred would be noticeably heavier than his rival, he's only slightly taller and is therefore a perfect target for the Irishman's sharp jabs and kicks.
Masvidal's work has a higher success rate when he can dictate the pace of each round, but a "more terrifying" version of McGregor - according to his trainer John Kavanagh - isn't going to play ball in that regard.
If the American wants the win, he will need to earn it, and that's likely to mean being taken out of his comfort zone.
Value in McGregor to go the distance
Masvidal won't have the luxury of resting on his laurels at any point, and his only real hope of ending the fight early will be if he can take McGregor to ground and bully him to submission, which isn't his strongest suit.
Not since 2008 has he won more than three consecutive fights either, and five of his last six to go the distance have gone against him.
There was no rustiness on the Irishman's part after 18 months out of the octagon, and while the victory over Cerrone won't offer any clues in terms of his durability should he walk onto a fearsome delivery from the American, his fitness levels are unquestionable.
His power is often underrated, and Masvidal's biggest error of judgement will be to underestimate that area of McGregor's arsenal.
The American has also lost rounds throughout his career, and Conor's ability to pick up an easy round or two also goes in his favour.
Going deep into the fight at pace will certainly suit the Irishman and therefore the Betfair Sportsbook odds of 5/4 do offer the value bet.