The Bloody Elbow team has made its predictions for UFC 246, which we’ve split into two posts. You can read our undercard predictions here, while this post is dedicated just to the main event between Conor McGregor and Donald Cerrone.
There’s a running joke on BE that whenever we unanimously pick a fighter, they wind up losing. This has genuinely happened quite often, so perhaps McGregor should be a little concerned given none of us went with Cerrone to pull off the upset on Saturday night.
Note: Predictions are entered throughout the week and collected the day before the event. Explanations behind each pick are not required and some writers opt not to do so for their own reasons. For example, if Phil Mackenzie entered all of his predictions on Wednesday without adding in any explanations, he has no idea if he’s going to be the only one siding with one fighter for any given fight.
Conor McGregor vs. Donald Cerrone
Anton Tabuena: Cerrone is a pretty damn good fighter, but while Dana and company are sensitive about the supposed “disrespect,” they really did book the best style match up for McGregor among all the 5 top fighters from either lightweight or welterweight. Cerrone has been stopped two straight times, and gets countered quite a bit by better boxers, especially early on. Those are McGregor’s biggest strengths. Cowboy also won’t have the speed and power advantage, and his (underrated) takedowns are mostly from timing people who charge in — something that McGregor rarely does.
Cerrone has to survive the first two rounds without taking massive damage, and he has to throw his kicks without getting countered. He shouldn’t overcommit to his punches either, or he could suffer a similar fate to his bout with Gaethje. If Cowboy sticks to a good game plan and fights the perfect fight in the opening two rounds, he can take over late. It’s just a really tough match up, and a lot of things have to go well for him to have a chance. While many would hope that Cowboy catches him with a head kick and turns the tide, to me McGregor is the easy and logical pick here. Conor McGregor by KO.
Mookie Alexander:Cerrone’s weaknesses are tailor made for McGregor to exploit, so the only thing that gives me pause is how rusty McGregor could look after another long layoff, because otherwise the dynamics of this matchup are the same now as they would’ve been when Conor was a champion. If McGregor can’t put Cerrone away in the early rounds, Donald has the better gas tank and is a prolific finisher when the opportunity presents itself. Otherwise, Cerrone just can’t help but get pressured and pieced up by southpaw counterstrikers. Conor McGregor by TKO, round 2.
Zane Simon: The initial dynamic here is pretty stark for Cerrone. He tends to start slow, likes to meat pressure by setting his feet and returning volume, and tends to have trouble with exactly the kinds of left hands and body shots McGregor likes to throw. He also has the unfortunate catch 22 of both tending to fight more poorly in ‘big’ fights he’s had to go through a lot of build up for, but also probably needs more focus than ever on his opponent to hand McGregor’s intense early pressure. That all spells a lot of disaster for Cowboy within the first couple rounds. However, he’s a great adjuster, fights really well down the stretch, and has a multitude of tools he can go to throughout the fight. If he can survive two rounds? Things could get pretty wild. Still, Conor McGregor via KO, round 1.
Badar Raja: Had the Gaethje fight not occurred only a few months ago, I would be picking Cerrone. Cerrone did not look bad in the Ferguson fight, and even took the first round from ‘El Cucuy’. Generally, Cerrone struggles against relentless pressure fighters who know how to box. Darren Till laid the blueprints for a fighter like McGregor to beat Cerrone and if McGregor wins, he will have to chase Cerrone and cut off the Octagon. McGregor has also shown up at the pre-fight events with a greater focus than in recent bouts meaning he is taking this very seriously. Of course it could all be a façade but I still think McGregor takes this one. Conor McGregor by TKO.
Stephie Haynes: I’ve got to pick Conor here. Cerrone is noticeably declining and not that it’s new information, but his body has always been a good target zone for enterprising opponents that actually watch tape. Conor has legit KO power in that left and Donald is just ripe for a good southpaw to create havoc. And speaking of tape, does Donald actually watch any? He recently referenced McGregor’s right hand as being the power hand. Um....what?? I’m certainly not saying Cerrone doesn’t have a route to victory because he certainly does. His cardio is much better and his ground game is clearly superior. Conor has very good takedown defense, though, so getting him down may be easier said than done.
Cowboy has an excellent kicking game both to the head and in the systematic destruction of legs, but Conor is also a decent kicker, so this is a tool available in both men’s arsenal. The other elephant in the room is how slow a starter Donald is. Conor wastes no time getting down to business and is quick and precise. The first round is crucial and if Cerrone can get out of it, his chances greatly increase. When I weigh out the pros and cons, though, I feel like Conor has more upside. I think he puts Cowboy away in the first via (T)KO.
Staff picking McGregor: Phil, Ed, Badar, Zane, Mookie, Anton, Dayne, Shak, Lewis, Stephie
Staff picking Cerrone:
This poll is closed