Conor McGregor’s fight with Donald Cerrone was billed as a tune-up, and he sure did tune Donald up.
It took only 40 seconds for McGregor to bust up Cowboy’s nose with a jumping shoulder, then wobble him with a head kick (!!), before getting the TKO with big shots on the ground. There was nothing competitive about this, and T-Mobile Arena went berserk. McGregor’s comeback was about as desirable for him and the UFC as possible.
For as short as the fight was, McGregor didn’t look rusty whatsoever and I’m sure there will now be that massive push for him to get the Khabib Nurmagomedov-Tony Ferguson winner. Ignore the talk about Jorge Masvidal, because it’s obvious that a lightweight title shot is what he’s getting, and this is where “Dana says...” is totally believable. The aura and mystique will be restored to some degree now that we’ve actually seen him win again, and irrespective of where Cerrone is at in this stage of his career, you can’t deny that Conor looked sharp.
As for Cerrone, he looked like a deer in the headlights. He was totally ripped apart by Justin Gaethje just a few months ago, and this matchup vs. McGregor was always going to be an absolute nightmare. McGregor is a remarkably fast starter and Cerrone is often slow out of the gate and has a few “early in round one” losses to his name, but this was instant. I really don’t want to see Cerrone taking anymore of these types of fights, because he just cannot win them and he’s taking a lot of punishment.
More thoughts below:
- Holly Holm and Raquel Pennington did the unthinkable and had an even worse fight than their first encounter in 2015. Holm clearly won it, but offense was minimal and prolonged clinches were frequent. There is nothing else to say about this, so move on.
- Aleksei Oleinik tapped out Maurice Greene with an armbar near the end of round two, and if he didn’t then I just assume both men would’ve been so exhausted that fighting in round three was not on the table. Oleinik nearly got Greene with the scarf hold in round one, was getting outstruck on the feet, but the old man is dangerous on the ground for a reason. Heavyweight grappling usually isn’t good to watch, but there are exceptions!
- Ode’ Osbourne was billed as “The Jamaican Sensation,” but he was sensationally stopped by Long Island bantamweight Brian Kelleher, who guillotined him so tightly that Osbourne had to tap with his right foot. Talk about making the most of your unexpected promotion to the main card.
- Carlos Diego Ferreira didn’t just beat Anthony Pettis, he thoroughly outclassed him everywhere and became the first man to ever tap the former UFC and WEC lightweight champion. The Brazilian has won six straight, and he is poised for another step up in competition with a display like that.
- Roxanne Modafferi!!! ROXY!!!! She’s once again pulled off a huge upset over a hyped prospect, this time dominating the previously unbeaten Maycee Barber, who was also compromised with a knee injury in round two. Modafferi’s striking looked excellent, and she closed off the physical disadvantages by having vastly superior technical skill on the ground. What was bizarre was a doctor coming in to look at Barber’s knee, quickly declaring she had a partial ACL tear, then letting the fight continue into the third frame. I have never seen that in any fight, men’s or women’s, and it was confusing. Even though Barber was tough and tried to rally back, there’s a strong case for a corner stoppage, which never came. The night undeniably belonged to Modafferi though, as BE’s own keeps herself afloat in the women’s flyweight title picture, and she continues to improve even at the age of 37.
- ...There wasn’t a good reason for Barber to have gotten on the mic first, right? Should’ve been Roxanne speaking and then Maycee.
- Sodiq Yusuff vs. Andre Fili was as good as advertised. The Nigerian featherweight prospect looked impressive in the first two rounds, showing off his striking and grappling abilities. He let his foot off the gas in the third round, as Fili charged back with volume kickboxing from southpaw, but Yusuff deservedly got his hand raised. Be on the lookout for Yusuff as someone who could end 2020 as a legitimate contender.
- Askar Askarov just about had Tim Elliott knocked out in round one, but Elliott is a zombie so of course he survived that. Askarov did prevail by unanimous decision in an entertaining flyweight encounter, with Elliott perhaps a little too willing to show off his toughness by spending much of round three eating as many right hands as humanly possible.
- DAMN! Drew Dober derailed the Nasrat Haqparast hype train with a sensational first-round KO in just 70 seconds. Haqparast got caught on a counter left after throwing a leg kick, then bludgeoned on the ground while the ref stood and watched for some reason. Easily the biggest win of Dober’s career, as he’s quietly 5-1 in his last six. This lightweight division is just so stacked.
- Aleksa Camur probably sent Justin Ledet packing with a triumphant UFC debut, winning a somewhat ugly unanimous decision. Camur had some pent-up energy and it showed in his strike selection early on, but Ledet barely threw anything of consequence and he only has himself to blame for the defeat.
- Sabina Mazo edged out JJ Aldrich in a fun flyweight scrap. Aldrich had the better of the early exchanges with her boxing, but Mazo rallied back thanks to excellent work in the clinch and some hard knees up the middle. The crowd didn’t like the decision and I personally thought Aldrich won it, but it all depends on whether or not you scored round two for Mazo, as she closed strongly after losing much of that frame.