So we are less a week away from McGregor vs Cerrone, Ireland vs America, Whiskey vs Beer, the anticipation is nearly over, as we approach the fight it’s time to start thinking about who is going to walk away with their hand raised.
Stylistically this is interesting so lets start where each round will begin, on the feet. On paper at least this is where most people are giving McGregor the advantage, McGregor is far more than just left hand despite the statement on Amazon series ‘More than a Cowboy’ from Cerrone’s coach Jafari Vanier. If this fight stays standing McGregor has got quite the arsenal of kicks which historically he has used to control the distance, the flashy spinning wheel kick serving more to keep opponents at range rather than any real threat to knock them out. McGregor has also been known to use leg kicks to great effect to restrict the movement of his opponents, in the second fight against Diaz he chewed up Nate’s leg in the early rounds which was instrumental in getting his decision victory on that occasion. McGregor has a vast array of strikes at his disposal, however the key is that big left hand which allowed him to finish one of the greatest featherweights of all time in just 13 seconds. Not McGregor’s only weapon but by far his most devastating, combined with his footwork and timing you get the results demonstrated in the below video.
The above is not to say the Cerrone is necessarily at a disadvantage on the feet, he is a very high level kick boxer in his own right, and has on numerous occasions has overwhelmed his opponents with an expert mix of vicious kicks and combinations. While Cerrone is typically a slow starter once he gets going he is one of the best strikers out there. His footwork and timing are deceptively good and he has the ability to land strikes and kicks with astonishing speed. He does have a very slight height advantage that could assist with uncorking a head kick reminiscent of his knock out of Matt Brown at UFC 206.
On the feet I believe this could go either way, the big advantage that Cerrone has over the Irishman is grappling. McGregor does train with one of the best grapplers on the planet in Dillon Danis, so he is actually better at grappling than some people give him credit for. In the first fight with Diaz McGregor actually hit a very nice sweep, he also managed to stop Khabib from getting the mount for a time at least so clearly knows at least what to do if he does get taken down. However with that being said while he clearly has grappling knowledge and can fight there, the result when it does go to ground for McGregor is seldom good, succumbing to rear naked chokes against both Diaz and Khabib respectively.
Donald Cerrone is an excellent grappler; he has 17 submission victories to his name. He is extremely good at chokes from various positions, 8 triangle chokes from his back, 5 rear naked chokes which seem to be a particular weakness for McGregor, generally when a good grappler like Cerrone gets onto McGregor’s back, it ends with a rear naked choke. Cerrone isn’t known for his takedowns, he usually stands with his opponents and finds an opportunity to scramble and get the submission either from guard after his opponent has shot in or he stuns his opponents with a kick or a punch, quickly takes the back and chokes them out. McGregor really needs to try and keep this fight standing, as previously mentioned McGregor is actually not easy to take down, he knows where his best chance of winning is, and he is smart enough to drill takedown defence to keep the fight where he needs it to be. According to Instagram he has even started his takedown defence before the fight has begun as my colleague alludes to in this article https://thesportsdespatch.com/conor-mcgregor-with-unique-attempt-to-defeat-cerrones-wrestling/amp
So wrestling and striking aside there is one more very important aspect to this fight, which is where McGregor usually excels, the mental game. Usually by now we have seen McGregor make his mystic Mac predictions however we haven’t seen it on this occasion. Something is different, Cerrone has never been much of a trash talker but then neither was Khabib but that didn’t stop McGregor from goading the undefeated Dagestan wrestling machine so why isn’t he doing the same to Cerrone? The difference in this fight the way I see it is that the pressure is squarely on McGregor to get one back in the win column, more detail on this theory in one of my previous articles https://thesportsdespatch.com/has-cowboy-already-won-the-jackpot/amp
In my opinion Donald Cerrone takes this fight, he just has too many ways to win but that is not to say that McGregor can’t win this fight, of course he can. However the way I see this playing out is all too familiar, McGregor has historically had issues with conditioning, as the fight progresses he does tend to fade. Whether he has addressed this problem remains to be seen but we can only really speculate on what we have seen historically, and generally speaking his losses come when he gets tired. Cerrone on the other hand seems to start slow and pick up as the fight progresses, while this could be a big problem if he allows McGregor to get comfortable early his conditioning could be the difference maker. If I had to predict exactly how this will go, McGregor starts strong but Cerrone weathers the early rounds, in round 3 McGregor starts to fade which is when Cerrone will pick up the pace and land combinations one of which will force McGregor to the ground where Cerrnone will quickly take the back and get his 18th submission victory.
MMA is of course one of the most unpredictable sports on the planet and fights rarely go the way you think they will go, however if I was a betting man and I am, I will take Cerrone. At the time of writing on skybet Cerrone is a plus 350 underdog, which is just madness.
Cerrone in my opinion looking at the history of both fighters has better grappling, better cardio and is more than capable of standing and exchanging with McGregor. Styles make fights and I am very excited to see this one as it really does have the potential to be a classic, no titles on the line, just legacy, lets see if McGregor can prove me wrong.
Fight stats taken from www.sherdog.com