McGregor v Cerrone: Notorious returns to UFC with an eye on Khabib rematch
When Conor McGregor steps back into the octagon against Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone, 470 days will have passed since his dramatic defeat to Khabib Nurmagomedov in Las Vegas.
That’s a long time between drinks. But The Notorious is back and gunning for a first UFC victory in over three years. Can he do it? We delve into the 18th January match-up in our Big Fight Preview.
McGregor’s comeback and future
McGregor’s fourth-round submission loss to Khabib prompted a short-lived retirement. Now that’s on the backburner, and Notorious is looking forward to a busy 2020, starting with Cerrone.
If he comes through that, a clash with Jorge Masvidal and a tilt at the welterweight title could be on the agenda. A rematch with Khabib is also on the cards if the Russian beats Tony Ferguson in April.
The Dubliner needs to rediscover the winning habit first, though. He hasn’t tasted success in the octagon since a 2016 TKO of Eddie Alvarez which saw him clinch the lightweight crown at UFC 205.
That was followed by the controversial money-spinning boxing bout with Floyd Mayweather Jr., which ended in a 10th round TKO. His UFC return versus Khabib took him to 21-4 in the octagon.
Since then he’s been more prolific with the authorities than UFC, following arrests for assault and robbery. It’s appropriate, then, that McGregor should make his comeback in Sin City.
What threat does Cerrone pose?
This isn’t Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone’s first rodeo. The Denver-native boasts a 36-13 (1) record but does come into this off the back of two straight defeats to Ferguson and Justin Gaethje.
Taking a closer look at his game, it’s clear Cerrone will cause McGregor some trouble. He’s regarded as one of the most-rounded fighters in UFC with his strengths primarily in grappling and submission.
17 of the American’s 36 professional victories have come via submission, which is significantly higher than McGregor, although the Dubliner does boast a 70% takedown defence rate.
Nevertheless, the key to this fight for the Cowboy is the floor. All four of McGregor’s losses have come via tap-out, with the Irishman more likely to target striking as a route to victory.
Why is that a problem? Well, Cerrone has lost four of his six fights in the last two years to strikes. That will be cause for concern for the American, and will place even more emphasis on the floor battle.
The 36-year-old will need to draw both McGregor and the fight out if he’s to capitalise on his strengths, with his Southpaw opponent set to try and end things early in the opening rounds.
McGregor v Cerrone odds
Where: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas.
When: 3am (UK Time), Sunday 19th January 2019.
How to watch: BT Sport Box Office
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing