It’s been over a year since Conor McGregor last stepped into the Octagon. And over three years since he last tasted victory. However, the former Lightweight and Featherweight Champion is back and claims he will be active in 2020.
First up on the docket is the all time winningest fighter in UFC history, Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone. One of the very best fighters to grace the octagon, Cerrone is missing only one thing in his career. A UFC belt. With an opportunity at fighting the biggest UFC star ever, a victory could very well catapult himself into the mix of another shot at UFC gold. All’s I know is, we are in for a fun fight as long as it last. So don’t blink.
UFC 246 Main Card 0n ESPN+ PPV (10 p.m. ET):
170 lbs.: Conor McGregor vs. Donald Cerrone – The motherload! With a witty mouth and a piston of a left hand, McGregor has stampeded his way to legendary status inside the octagon. However, legal issues and a boxing fight outside the UFC have limited the Irishman to only one fight in over three years. On the other hand, Cerrone has always maintained activity. He’s however stumbled of late. Being stopped by Justin Gathje and Tony Ferguson. The elite of the division.
As for a prediction, I’ve got McGregor. While Cerrone has a more diverse attack and better cardio, his durability is often questionable against pressure fighters. McGregor is a pressure striker, but a calculated one. He knows distance and rarely makes a mistake inside the pocket. If Cerrone can mix up his attack, using leg kicks and some grappling to bring this fight to the later rounds, hes got a real shot. However, I see him crumbling to the left hand of McGregor’s in the first round.
135 lbs.: Holly Holm vs. Raquel Pennington – The first fight was close and I have no doubt this one will be either. Since knocking out Ronda Rousey, Holm has gone 2-5. Four of those fights were title fights, and she lost them all. Not to discredit Holm, as she’s only fought the best female fighters. But, clearly she hasn’t been able to capture the magic she got back in 2015. Pennington recently snapped a two fight skid, edging out Irene Aldana via split decision. Before that skid, she had won four straight, including a victory over Miesha Tate.
As for the fight, I have Holm. While Nunes absolutely put her away, prior to that, durability was never a question. Pennington can crack, but not to the extent of Nunes, Cyborg or even Germaine de Randamie. Holm is going to need to keep range, avoid the pocket and foreseeable brawls. Pennington is a pressure fighter, so Holm will need to make the most of her counter punching. In a close one, I have Holm winning via decision.
265 lbs.: Maurice Greene vs. Aleksei Oleinik – This is a nice little clash, but I got Oleinik. At some point, this fight is going to hit the mat and Oleinik is a grappling wizard. So with that, I got Oleinik winning via submission.
135 lbs.: Brian Kelleher vs. Ode Osbourne – I’m not too familiar with Osborne, but while young and obviously talented to get picked up by the UFC, his opponents thus far haven’t exactly been great. That’s not a great reason to not side with him, but I know what I’m getting for Kelleher. High output and a nice mix of striking and grappling. So with that, I’m going with Mr.Boom via decision.
155 lbs.: Diego Ferreira vs. Anthony Pettis – What an awesome fight. The highly underrated Ferreira has won five straight fights, most recently ending Mairbek Taisumov’s six fight win streak. As for Pettis, the former Lightweight Champion has traded wins and losses since 2016. Along the way, he’s finished Stephen Thompson, Charles Oliveira and Michael Chiesa.
Man, this is a tough fight to call, but I got to go with Pettis. He’s fought nothing but the best since 2010. He’s still an excellent striker and he’s got a hell of a chin. His last two finish defeats were from injuries sustained in the fight. So as long as nothing freaky happens, I believe Pettis will use a mix of striking and grappling to squeak out a decision victory over a very good Ferreira.
UFC 246 Prelims Card 0n ESPN (8 p.m. ET):
125 lbs.: Maycee Barber vs. Roxanne Modafferi – As much as I like Roxy, she’s outgunned here. Barber is 20 times the striker she is and has power to boot. Roxy is tough as nails and bring forth volume in her striking. However, at times it’s sloppy and she has virtually no power. The only route to victory for Roxy, is via her wrestling and grappling. I just don’t see it though. Look for Barber to tag Roxy early and often, eventually finishing her in the first round.
145 lbs.: Andre Fili vs. Sodiq Yusuff – This is when matchmaking is at its finest. Fili has been rolling of late, winning four of his last five fights. The last was insanely impressive, finishing Sheymon Moraes in the first round. As for the Nigerian Yusuff, three UFC fights, three wins. Two of those victories coming via TKO in round one.
Fili is a more diverse fighter, with wrestling chops in his back pocket. Yusuf is an excellent striker, with legit pop in his hands. Throw in explosiveness and he’s a dangerous out for anyone on the feet. Fili though, is very durable and Yusuf has been hurt badly in two of his three fights UFC fights. The fact that he overcame being hurt and won, says a lot though. However, I’m going with Fili. His ability to mix up his striking and wrestling, have me thinking a decision victory.
125 lbs.: Askar Askarov vs. Tim Elliott – As much I want to trust Elliott, he’s got some of the worst fight IQ. Constantly putting himself in the disadvantageous positions. Against a grappling wizard like Asakarov, that’s not gonna fly. After several crazy scrambles, Asakarov catches Elliott in a submission.
155 lbs.: Drew Dober vs. Nasrat Haqparast – While Dober is a high output machine, Haqparast has the power and output to disrupt this fight. So with that, I got the young Tristar product Haqparast via decision.
UFC 246 Early Prelims Card 0n ESPN+ (7 p.m. ET):
205 lbs.: Aleksa Camur vs. Justin Ledet – While the finishing machine newcomer Camur is the safe bet, I’m going with Ledet. He’s currently on a two fight skid and his UFC career hangs in the balance. Ledet’s got a massive 6 inch reach and 3 inch height advantage over Camur. Given Camur has never gone past past the second round, the unknown of cardio gives me pause for concern. In the end, I’m going with Ledet to jab his way back into the win column via decision.
125 lbs.: J.J. Aldrich vs. Sabina Mazo – Although Mazo looked great in her last fight, I’m not sure she can apply the same output to Aldrich. I believe Aldrich is the better striker and is going to outpoint Mazo en route to a decision victory.