The UFC returns for their first show of the decade. UFC 246 also features the return of the biggest name in the sport, The Notorious, Conor Mcgregor. His opponent on January 18th will be the one and only, Donald Cerrone. This will be McGregor’s first fight since his unsuccessful title attempt at UFC 229. That was at lightweight, however, whereas the UFC 246 main event will take place at welterweight. We delve into the numbers and stats behind both men to see if these give us any indication as to how the bout will play out. All stats are correct per UFC stats.
Tale of the Tape
Both McGregor and Cerrone are two of the most recognisable names in the sport. McGregor (21-4) stands at 5’9”, but has an impressive 74” reach. On the contrary, Cerrone (36-13-0-1) is taller than McGregor at 6’1”, but has a shorter reach at 73”. Although it is only a one-inch reach advantage, if anyone knows how to use it, it is McGregor. The best example of how well McGregor utilises his range was when he faced Eddie Alvarez.
WHAT A PERFORMANCE 🏆🏆
— UFC (@ufc) September 13, 2018
Sliding just out of range of Alvarez’s strikes, the Irishman was able to land on Alvarez when he was off balance having missed a strike. The finish in this bout is arguably the best example of this. Alvarez swung a wide right hand at McGregor, missing by a matter of centimetres. The Notorious countered this with a four strike combo, leading to the finish.
The two men in the UFC 246 main event are mainly strikers. We can expect a stand-up war unless Cerrone initiates a wrestling game.
When it comes to McGregor, we have only seen him once initiate a jiu-jitsu situation. This was against Max Holloway and was due to the fact he suffered an injury during the bout. The Irishman lands an average of 5.27 strikes per minute, with an accuracy of 48%. He also has ‘that’ left hand. Of his 21 wins, he has knocked out 18 opponents. Even when he defeated Nate Diaz via decision at UFC 202, he knocked him down three times.
He absorbs just 4.43 strikes a minute. The elusive style of McGregor means that he is often not landed on during his fights, unless in a clinch situation. Diaz had great success in the clinch during their UFC 202 bout, utilising his size advantage. Despite his elusiveness, McGregor was dropped by Khabib Nurmagomedov and rocked heavily by Diaz, surprising everyone. This proves that he is there to be hit if he has a drop in concentration.
Cowboy Cerrone is also predominantly a striker. With a muay Thai style, he lands 4.34 strikes per minute, an accuracy of 46%. He absorbs just 4.23 strikes a minute, slightly less than McGregor.
Cerrone has recorded an impressive 10 knockouts within his 36 wins and holds the record for most head kick knockouts in the UFC. He is more susceptible to being knocked out, suffering six losses via knockout and two in his last two bouts. He is, however, the owner of one of the best finishes in UFC history when he faced Rick Story.
— Todd Grisham (@Grishamfight) March 29, 2017
The slick nature of his flowing strikes proves that Cerrone is dangerous on the feet. Landing strikes from all angles, Cerrone has scary power in his legs, on show against Matt Brown.
Donald Cerrone KOing Matt Brown with one of the cleanest head-kicks ever 😱
— UFC on BT Sport (@btsportufc) October 23, 2019
If McGregor isn’t careful, he could be on the end of another Cerrone highlight reel.
Mix up at UFC 246
If McGregor is able to touch and hurt Cowboy, we could see the American mix up his game. We know that he isn’t afraid to wrestle and could see him go to his wrestling in order to gain an advantage.
The Irishman has just one submission victory on his record, back in 2012. Although he is a brown belt in Jiu-Jitsu, he rarely utilises takedowns in his fights. An average of just 0.75 per 15 minutes over 11 UFC fights highlights this.
Cowboy has notched an impressive 17 career wins via submission, of which 10 have been under the WEC/UFC banner. Arguably the most impressive of these came against Mike Perry. Cerrone torqued Perry’s arm with a horrific armbar, leading to the tap and the victory.
Cerrone shoots for takedowns more often than McGregor, averaging 1.21 per 15 minutes in the octagon.
What is important when considering the takedowns in this fight is the accuracy, however. Assuming it is Cerrone who will shoot if at all, he has an accuracy of just 36%. This factor, mixed with McGregor’s 70% takedown defence suggests that the fight will stay on the feet.
McGregor has only really faced three wrestlers in his UFC career. He was taken down four times by Chad Mendes but was able to outwork him for the victory. When he faced Eddie Alvarez, Alvarez was unable to get any kind of offence off, leading to three unsuccessful takedown attempts. Fighting Khabib Nurmagomedov in October 2018 was a different story, however. Although ‘The Notorious’ did a lot better than many thought he might with regards to the wrestling, he was still taken down three times. With each of these takedowns, McGregor was dominated on the ground by the Russian.
Outcome at UFC 246
It is easy to assume that this one will be a stand-up battle. We know that McGregor always comes to fight and employs an almost exclusive stand-up game. We also know that Cerrone loves to stand and bang with his opponent.
Cerrone’s camp are not concerned about the takedown threat of McGregor, suggesting he ‘only has a left hand’. McGregor certainly has more tools to worry about from Cerrone.
A few outcomes are for sure in this bout –
It will be entertaining. It will be captivating. The world will be watching.
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