MMAOB staff writer Adam Martin takes a deeper look at the main event of UFC 246, a five-round welterweight bout between Conor McGregor and Donald Cerrone. The event takes place on Saturday, January 18 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Conor McGregor (-330)
McGregor (21-4) is the former UFC lightweight and featherweight champion. The 31-year-old Irishman is a true superstar in the world of mixed martial arts and anytime he steps into the cage it’s a big deal. Coming off of a 14-month layoff, McGregor is eager to get back to work and is looking forward to a big 2020 year that could see him compete for titles at both 155lbs and 170lbs. During his UFC career, McGregor has fought and defeated some of the best fighters in the sport including Jose Aldo, Max Holloway, Eddie Alvarez, Nate Diaz, and Dustin Poirier, with losses to Khabib Nurmagomedov and Nate Diaz. McGregor is known for his incredible punching power and he has scored 18 wins by knockout in his career. His weakness historically has been his submissions as he’s been tapped out four times. But anytime he can keep his fights on the feet he will always have the chance to win by knockout. McGregor hand-picked Cerrone as his opponent for his comeback fight and a big win here would set up “Notorious” for more massive pay-per-view fights in 2020.
Donald Cerrone (+270)
Cerrone (36-13,1 NC) is one of the most popular fighters in UFC history. The 36-year-old American has been a top-ranked lightweight and welterweight for the last decade and has been one of the most active fighters on the UFC roster. Some of his wins include Eddie Alvarez, Edson Barboza, Al Iaquinta, Mike Perry, and Benson Henderson, with losses to the likes of Justin Gaethje, Tony Ferguson, Darren Till, Jorge Masvidal and Rafael dos Anjos twice. “Cowboy” is an incredibly well-rounded fighter with a vicious striking attack to go along with an incredible submission game and great conditioning. He has 10 wins by knockout, 17 by submission, and 10 by decision which makes for a very complete fighter. Historically his biggest issue has been his durability as he’s been knocked out six times, and getting older hasn’t helped him with that. But he’s still very dangerous with his kicks and his chokes and you can never count Cerrone out of a fight. After a long career of being a company man, Cerrone finally gets the chance to headline a pay-per-view. If he can go out there and score the upset over McGregor, it would be by far the biggest win of his career to date.
Fight Breakdown: I view this as the ideal style matchup for McGregor to return to coming off of a layoff. McGregor badly needs a win, and now he gets to fight an opponent in Cerrone who will be willing to stand and trade with him, which is where McGregor is most dangerous. McGregor has huge power in his fists and although Cerrone has been a warrior throughout his career, his durability has come into question in recent fights with back-to-back TKO losses. McGregor is accurate and powerful and should be able to find Cerrone’s chin and his body and hurt him. Of course, you can’t completely overlook Cerrone, especially if this fight goes to the ground, where he will have an advantage. The fact the fight is at 170lbs also throws another element of intrigue into things. But I think this fight stays on the feet and that will give McGregor a great chance to score another highlight-reel knockout. I see McGregor winning this fight in the first or second round by punches.
Prediction: Conor McGregor via TKO