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UFC 246 card: Conor McGregor vs Cowboy Cerrone full fight preview

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight knockout artists Conor McGregor and Donald Cerrone will clash TONIGHT (Jan. 18, 2020) at UFC 246 from inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Once again, McGregor will look to make his return to combat after more than one year away from the Octagon. Despite his time on the sidelines, there are so many potential options for the “Notorious” athlete: title shots at Welterweight or Lightweight, a BMF showdown, numerous top contenders. However, it all begins with Cerrone. Speaking of “Cowboy,” the long-time contender enters this match up following a rough couple losses. However, Cerrone has rebounded from tough defeats plenty of times before, and he’ll look to do so again in the biggest fight of his career.

Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:

Conor McGregor

Record: 21-4
Key Wins: Jose Aldo (UFC 194), Nate Diaz (UFC 202), Eddie Alvarez (UFC 205), Chad Mendes (UFC 189), Dustin Poirier (UFC 178)
Key Losses: Khabib Nurmagomdov (UFC 229), Nate Diaz (UFC 196)
Keys to Victory: McGregor is a damn powerful and accurate striker, which has proven to be a terrible combination for his opponents. He boxes well in the pocket and draws opponents into counters masterfully, and it’s worth-noting that despite his submission losses, McGregor has shown good skill on the mat.

Cerrone is a very favorable match up for McGregor, plain and simple. “Cowboy” struggles against Southpaws in general, but he particularly struggles with opponents who can send crisp straight punches down the middle.

Sound like anyone familiar?

McGregor is likely looking to make a statement in this fight, and everything is lined up for him to do so. If he stalks Cerrone, rips a body kick or two, and keeps his foe uncomfortable, it seems only a matter of time until his left hand lands cleanly.

Donald Cerrone

Record: 36-13 (1)
Key Wins: Eddie Alvarez (UFC 178), Benson Henderson (UFC Fight Night 59), Al Iaquinta (UFC Fight Night 151), Alexander Hernandez (UFC Fight Night 143), Yancy Medeiros (UFC Fight Night 126), Rick Story (UFC 202)
Key Losses: Tony Ferguson (UFC 238), Justin Gaethje (UFC Fight Night 158), Jorge Masvidal (UFC on FOX 23), Darren Till (UFC Fight Night 118), Leon Edwards (UFC Fight Night 132), Rafael dos Anjos (UFC on FOX 17, UFC Fight Night 27)
Keys to Victory: Cerrone is one of the most experienced men on the roster, and he’s got a ton of skill in each area of the game. Cerrone can really punish opponents with his kicks if able to dictate range, and he’s been relying on his wrestling and submission skills more and more over the years.

Earlier in the week, Cerrone spoke about being willing to make a “stupid” decision and stand with McGregor. That sounds bad, but listening to Cerrone speak more in the press conferences, it seems more like he understands that taking down McGregor is not an easy task than a simple ego trip.

Cerrone’s chances are greatly improved by two factors: his ability to mix it up and his ability to survive early. Cerrone is right that taking McGregor down is not as simple as shooting at the first opportunity — “Cowboy” is not Khabib. However, if Cerrone is sticking McGregor with long kicks and getting him to reach a bit with his punches, the takedown becomes much more possible.

Whether or not Cerrone can ground McGregor early, not getting knocked out in the first round and a half is an obvious, but important goal. It is proven that McGregor slows down as fights wear on, whereas Cerrone can push one hell of a pace. To take advantage of that conditioning edge, Cerrone may have to avoid exchanges at times or force clinch work.

Bottom Line

It’s the return of Conor McGregor.

For McGregor, it really comes back to his future options and plans. McGregor has a lot of potential paths to move forward, but most of the high-profile ones rely on him first knocking out Cerrone. That’s not to say McGregor would fall off the face of the Earth with a loss, but it’s hard to see him fighting for a title — BMF or official — following defeat.

Meanwhile, “Cowboy” will not instantly be back in the title hunt if he does score the upset. We’ve been down this road many times before, and at 36 years of age, his title aspirations are unlikely to happen now. However, Cerrone does have a reputation of faltering in big fights.

A win tonight forever shuts down that line of thinking.

Remember that will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 246 fight card on Sat. (Jan. 18, 2020) RIGHT HERE, starting with the Fight Pass/ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC 246: “McGregor vs. Cerrone” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.

At UFC 246, Conor McGregor and Donald Cerrone will meet in the main event. Which man will have his hand raised?

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