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UFC 246, McGregor vs. Cowboy: Predictions and picks

Scott Newman
Published Jan 13, 2020
Jan 13, 2020 IST

Conor McGregor makes his long-awaited return this weekend to take on Donald Cerrone
Conor McGregor makes his long-awaited return this weekend to take on Donald Cerrone

The UFC returns this weekend with its first show of 2020, and it’s a big one as Conor McGregor takes on Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone in the main event of UFC 246 from Las Vegas, Nevada.

The card overall isn’t that deep; hardly surprising given McGregor’s likely pay packet, but it’s still got a handful of solid fights and excellent prospects to keep an eye on.

Here are the predicted outcomes for UFC 246: McGregor vs. Cowboy.

#1 Conor McGregor vs Donald Cerrone

Can Conor McGregor uncork another classic KO?
Can Conor McGregor uncork another classic KO?

Well, it’s been a long time coming, but Irish superstar Conor McGregor is finally returning to the UFC. This weekend sees him face-off with Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone in what should be a truly fantastic fight, even if it’s odd in a sense that it’s a pair of 155lbers fighting up at 170lbs for a potential shot at the 155lbs title.

The weight class may well suit Cerrone more than ‘The Notorious One’. Cowboy has fought at 170lbs on numerous occasions, nearly reaching a title shot there in 2017 before being derailed by Jorge Masvidal. He’s beaten tough fighters like Rick Story, Matt Brown and Mike Perry at Welterweight, while McGregor’s sole experience there consists of two fights against Nate Diaz, who is another natural 155lber.

McGregor does at least appear to be taking the fight seriously, though; recent photos of him show that he’s packed on muscle for his move to 170lbs, and realistically, it makes sense – if he loses this one, his relevance and drawing status would likely come into question as he hasn’t won a fight since 2016.

This sounds like it’ll turn out to be a striking battle. Sure, McGregor’s takedown defence was badly exposed by Khabib Nurmagomedov, but of course, Cowboy isn’t nearly the offensive wrestler that the Russian is, and more to the point, his pride will likely make him want to stand and the trade-off with the Irishman. So who has the advantage?

At 6’1” compared to McGregor’s 5’9” and with a 73” reach compared to the Irishman’s 74”, it’s clear that Cerrone’s not going to allow ‘The Notorious One’ to snipe at him from the outside as he did to opponents like Dennis Siver and Chad Mendes. Cerrone’s kicking game is tremendous, and he’s adept at using long punches and jabs to keep a foe at distance.


To win this fight, Cerrone’s best bet would be to look to kick McGregor repeatedly to keep him at the range, and perhaps look to mix in his takedowns for good measure. The problem he’s likely to have is that gauging range and being able to catch opponents at just the right time is one of McGregor’s best strengths.

More to the point, a couple of Cerrone’s big weaknesses also play right into the Irishman’s hands. Cowboy is a notoriously slow starter, while McGregor tends to end things quickly; obviously, everyone remembers his 13-second KO of Jose Aldo, but he also took out Dustin Poirier in the first round and essentially had Eddie Alvarez, Chad Mendes and Dennis Siver done by the end of the first stanza too.

Cerrone also struggles when fighters manage to corral him against the fence, as Masvidal and Darren Till did. And McGregor loves to use this tactic, closing his foe down against the fence before opening up on them with heavy shots. Add in the fact that McGregor’s power carries over to 170lbs – he dropped the incredibly durable Nate Diaz on numerous occasions – and that Cowboy’s chin is now extremely questionable, and it sounds like a recipe for disaster.

Cowboy has a chance to win this fight, certainly; he’s a much better striker in terms of overall skills – including kicking than McGregor and he’s far better in terms of grappling. The problem though is that for me, his weaknesses line up too well with a couple of McGregor’s strengths. I see this going in a similar fashion to Cerrone’s recent fight with Justin Gaethje, ending with Cowboy unconscious.

The Pick: McGregor via first-round KO

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