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Chael Sonnen believes Conor McGregor made ‘miscalculation’ to ‘walk back into a five-round fight’

MMA: UFC 229-Nurmagomedov vs McGregor Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Despite a long layoff from competition, former UFC champion Conor McGregor will be returning this January for a five-round main event fight opposite Donald Cerrone. While fight fans would have liked to see “Notorious” stack up against Justin Gaethje, Jorge Masvidal, or Nate Diaz in his comeback venture, “Cowboy” is certainly a nice consolation prize.

But was it the right fight for McGregor to take?

While Cerrone’s exciting fighting style should allow McGregor all the opportunities to land his patented left hand, it may not have been the right move for the Irishman to jump right back into a five-round fight after such a lengthy layoff. Remember, McGregor hasn’t competed since getting choked out by undefeated lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov back at UFC 229 in October 2018.

Mixed martial arts (MMA) analyst Chael Sonnen is already doubting McGregor’s decision to sign on for a five-round fight. Sure, McGregor needs to be featured in a headlining bout every time he steps inside of the cage, but he may be biting off more than he can chew this time around.

“Conor is likely to go in as the heavy favorite…,” Sonnen said on his Bad Guy Inc YouTube show. “[But] understand one thing. The fight is scheduled for five rounds. If Conor ever had a flaw in his career, and he hasn’t had very many, he’s been open to admit it, he gets tired.

“To come off that layoff that he’s had… and yes he’ll be looking for that finish, he’ll be looking for that left hand, he’ll be looking to get Cowboy out of there, I understand that.

“But he did the same thing with Nate Diaz, and when he found out that Nate could take a punch, all of a sudden you’re in the later rounds, and all of a sudden you’re out of energy.”

Sonnen certainly has a point. McGregor, who is known for his knockout power and world-class striking skills, has never been the best at preserving energy and beating opponents in later rounds. In both of his fights with Nate Diaz, which were contested at the same weight as the Cerrone fight will be (170 pounds), McGregor gassed. The Irishman wasn’t able to push through it the first time and Diaz snatched up a rear-naked choke finish, but McGregor did prevail in the rematch to win a majority decision at the end of five.

Needless to say, McGregor’s cardio is going to be even more suspect heading into his fight with Cerrone this January. That’s because McGregor hasn’t competed in well over one year and the last time he did step inside of the cage he didn’t look like his usually dominant self.

“I do feel in many ways the miscalculation here is to walk back into a five-round fight,” Sonnen said.

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