This year’s UFC calendar is opening to an unmissable event as Conor McGregor returns to the Octagon after a fifteen-month absence to trade leather with Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone. The two titans have reached the crossroads in their respected careers — McGregor a man universally considered the unchallenged poster boy for the sport and Cerrone viewed as the journeyman of UFC.
The two veterans go toe-to-toe this Saturday evening at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, which will undoubtedly be an explosive opening to the UFC year.
The ‘Notorious’ returns to the octagon at UFC246 having only fought once since October 2018, when Khabib Nurmagomedov bested the Irishman which in turn spilt out of the eight walls into a plethora of controversy. Beat Cerrone as betodayusa predicts and 2020 could be a monumental year for the fallen Irish giant, as clashes between Jorge Masvidal, Kamaru Usman or a blockbuster rematch with Khabib could be in the pipeline.
Taste defeat to Cerrone and McGregor’s standing in the sport will be thrown into obscurity and irrevocably be on the decline. The 170lbs division is where McGregor’s future may lie and the Irishman will have his sights on a barrel-full of silverware if he can get past an elite veteran in Cerrone. McGregor’s coach —John Kavanagh— has described the fighter in the best condition of his career, but it still remains behind closed doors if his absence from the sport has acted as a perfect recovery period.
Some might argue that the McGregor’s exclusion from the sport will have deliberating effects on his reactions and sharpness. The Notorious is also on a two-fight losing streak if we can count his exhibition fight defeat to Floyd Mayweather Jr of 2017.
The veteran cowboy has no intention of taking off his hat off just yet. He is riding into the biggest bout of his career with his textbook, desperado profusion of gritty confidence. Cerrone, who holds the UFC record for most wins and finishes comes into this fight on the back of a knockout loss to Justin Gaethje last September.
Most of Cerrone’s career has been marked as his willingness and desire to fight anyone at any time, but his defeat in 2013 to Rafael dos Anjos felt like the turning point in his UFC journey. The Denver born-brawler’s image was reconstructed from an ascendant fan favorite into a beloved veteran gunslinger.
The American’s record speaks for itself, 36 wins (10 by knockout, 17 by submission and 9 by decision) against 13 losses. Age might be the factor against Cerrone at 36, or looking at the other end of the spectrum his experience could keep him in the fight.
McGregor is the outed favorite to win this blockbuster showdown, but he will have to rely on his striking game to keep Cerrone at bay. The Irishman’s reach is his tool of destruction against the journeyman, possessing the tool to hurt Donald from distance.
Cerrone is armed with a strong striking game as well but has been out-struck before, while Conor has never been in danger on the feet part of his fight-game. Cerrone will rely heavily on his grappling and floor fighting to combat the Irishman, opting for strikes and takedowns.
The ‘Cowboy’ has a stronger all-round game, peppering opponents with jabs, strikes and his famous head kicks. The American has the ability to finish a fight with a simple takedown and submission, while McGregor opts to stay on his feet, losing all four-pro losses via submission.
This is Cerrone’s moment to take the bull by the horns and dig deep to use his experience as a weapon against the younger and highly-tipped favourite. If Cerrone can take the fight to the ground it is unlikely Conor will recover, but if the battle remains upright then Donald will be in trouble.
Despite the fact Cerrone has more tools and experience, it is harder to picture a win for the ‘Cowboy’. He might have some early success landing leg kicks, jabs and possibly succeed a takedown.
McGregor should be solid enough defensively to remain on his feet and guard against any potential weak areas that might impact his chance of winning according to bettodayusa’s mma predicitons. All signs point to the Dubliner dropping Cerrone at some point, but it will have to be early on.
Conor’s problematic gas-tank has been raised — with some arguing he can only fight in top gear for one round. Meanwhile, Cerrone’s age and attrition has also been questioned — even though the ageing cowboy’s clashes usually go the distance.
However, the argument still remains that this fight has come a couple of years too late, with both fighters’ skills not polished like they once were. If McGregor turns in a performance featuring the Irishman’s vintage skills, then ‘The Notorious’ can be heavily expected to claim a UFC crown on his UFC return.
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