Jan 17, 2020
Jan 17, 2020

UFC 246 preview: Conor McGregor vs. Donald Cerrone

Conor McGregor vs. Donald Cerrone preview and odds

McGregor and Cerrone stats

McGregor vs. Cerrone predictions: Where is the value?

McGregor and Cerrone's fighting styles analysed

UFC 246 preview: Conor McGregor vs. Donald Cerrone

This year’s UFC calendar is opening with an unmissable event as Conor McGregor is set for his first fight in the octagon in fifteen months. The former two-division champion is facing former UFC Lightweight Championship challenger Donald Cerrone in a welterweight bout. Will it be a successful return for The Notorious? Read on to inform your McGregor vs. Cerrone predictions.

McGregor vs. Cerrone: Tale of the tape

McGregor

Fighter

Cerrone

31

Age

36

5 ft 9 in

Height

6 ft 1 in

155 lbs

Weight

155 lbs

74 in

Reach

73 in

9-2-0

UFC record

23-10-0

21-4-0

Overall MMA record

36-13-0 (1 NC)

9:02

Average fight time

9:49

48%

Striking accuracy

46%

#4 (lightweight)

UFC ranking

#3 (lightweight)

Arguably the most famous name to have emerged from UFC, McGregor is readying himself for his first fight since he was defeated by Khabib Nurmagomedov in October 2018. On that occasion he lost in the fourth round via submission from a neck crank.

That remains his only bout since he temporarily switched to boxing to face Floyd Mayweather in 2017 before briefly retiring earlier this year, although he has drafted in his original MMA coach John Kavanagh to oversee the final stages of his training camp.

The 31-year-old has also been embroiled in various controversies over the past couple of years and questions have been raised as to what extent he is capable of efficiently preparing for the fight.

This bout will be a record-breaking 34th in the UFC for veteran Cerrone, who can also boast unmatched numbers for UFC wins and finishes with 23 and 16 respectively. ‘Cowboy’ has lost six of his ten fights since January 2017 and was defeated in his most recent outing against Justin Gaethje in the first round.

This is the first fight between the pair, although Cerrone has publicly criticised McGregor in the past, branding his short-lived retirement from UFC as a “ploy to stay relevant”.

Analysing the McGregor vs. Cerrone odds

Despite his recent lengthy absence from the octagon, McGregor is firm favourite at 1.306*, which translates to just over a 73% chance of winning. By comparison, Cerrone is set at 3.620*, equating to an approximate 27% chance.

In all of his previous four bouts, McGregor’s odds have tightened as fight night has approached. The Irishman is renowned for utilising the build-up to his bouts to criticise his opponents, generating hype which bettors increasingly attach to. Whilst Nurmagomedov and Jorge Masdival have drawn his ire in recent weeks, history dictates that it won’t be long before his attention shifts to Cerrone.

This suggests that better value can be enjoyed with McGregor’s odds by betting on him sooner rather than later. Conversely, those confident in Cerrone could benefit from holding off on any bets until nearer January 19.

McGregor vs. Cerrone: Fighting styles compared

Considering the fifteen-month gap since his last fight, McGregor’s approach for this bout could be portrayed as more difficult to predict than usual. However, his reunion with Kavanagh indicates a keenness to emulate his peak UFC form which earned him two championship titles.

Despite possessing similar striking accuracy rates, the two fighters’ approaches on this front are noticeably different. In his most recent victories against the likes of Jose Aldo and Eddie Alvarez, McGregor primarily opted for a fist-based attack, striking his opponents with low punches from a side-on stance.

Cerrone is better at grappling and certainly not afraid of deploying this ability when required.

By comparison, Cerrone is famed for his Muay Thai-influenced style and works his opponents to carve opportunities to unleash his brutal head kicks. All but four of his knockout victories have been clinched by moves involving kicks to the head and his skill on this front shows no sign of easing, as highlighted with his lightweight victory over Alexander Hernandez in January last year.

These different striking styles are reflected in their records. McGregor’s direct and all-attack attitude has seen the overwhelming majority (85.7%) of his 21 MMA wins come via knockout, whereas Cerrone’s more calculated tactic means that just 27.7% of his wins have defeated opponents in the same manner.

McGregor is 1.588* to win by KO, TKO or DQ. This implies that Cerrone will require a sharp performance to defend himself against McGregor’s relentless fists and stay in the fight long enough to create chances and launch attacks of his own.

One advantage Cerrone does possess is that he is better at grappling and certainly not afraid of deploying this ability when required. He averages 1.21 takedowns per 15 minutes compared to 0.75 for McGregor, and the ease at which he switches between upright attacks and wrestling his opponent on the ground often catches them off guard.

If McGregor deploys his typically ferocious start, a brisk victory for him by knockout is a distinct possibility.

McGregor is firmly aware of where his own strengths lie and rarely initiates a grappling sequence. However, he successfully defends 70% of attempted takedowns on average, and is still more difficult to tackle off his feet than most fighters.

Based on this, submission would be the most proficient route to victory for Cerrone. Just under half (47.2%) of his 36 MMA victories have been achieved via submission, whereas McGregor has only managed it once in his professional career. All four of McGregor’s defeats have also been by submission.

Either fighter to win by submission is 4.730*, although Cerrone is more likely to opt for this tactic out of the pair.

McGregor vs. Cerrone: Where is the value?

If McGregor deploys his typically ferocious start and ensures that the majority of the initial fighting is upright, a brisk victory for him by knockout is a distinct possibility. Cerrone has recently struggled against fighters who deploy a similar aggressive fist-led approach and suffered four TKOs in his last six defeats.

Two-thirds of McGregor’s 21 MMA wins finished in the opening round, although Cerrone should still be experienced enough to offer a challenging defence.

Instead, McGregor may be inclined to utilise the first round to wear down Cerrone with body shots before attempting to deliver a knockout strike, suggesting that a KO win for The Notorious in the second round is a distinct possibility. McGregor to win in the first two rounds is available at 2.080*.

Should the fight go for a greater length of time, a victory for Cerrone via submission becomes more likely. Cerrone is more accustomed to bouts lasting the distance and considering McGregor’s lack of competitive action approaching this clash, it is feasible that stamina could start to dictate proceedings in the fourth and fifth rounds. The bout is 4.420* to last the full five.

However, the argument remains that this fight has possibly come a couple of years too late for Cerrone, whose all-round skills are impressive but visibly on the decline. If McGregor turns in a performance featuring enough glimpses of his merciless best, The Notorious can be heavily expected to crown his return to UFC with a victory.

Odds subject to change

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