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‘A left hand and that first round’ - Cerrone’s coach on what they’re worried about against Conor McGregor

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To hear Donald Cerrone’s coach Jafari Vanier tell it, Conor McGregor has a lot more on his plate to think about than ‘Cowboy’ heading in to UFC 246.

If the bulk of Conor McGregor’s UFC 246 fight camp is being kept under wraps, it certainly doesn’t sound like Donald Cerrone is expecting anything different from the former two division champion as a result.

In a recently released mini-doc series for Amazon Prime, Cerrone’s wrestling coach Jafari Vanier spoke about the expectations around ‘Cowboy’’s camp heading into UFC 246. Most notably, Vanier feels that Conor McGregor has a lot more to worry about from Cerrone than Cerrone has from McGregor. Vanier noted Cowboy’s submissions, kicking game, and even ability to win decisions, in comparison to his ‘Notorious’ opponent.

“We just have to worry about a left hand and that first round, him coming out on fire,” Vanier said of McGregor (transcript via MMA Fighting). “You’ve never really seen ‘Cowboy’ ever gas. After the first round, round and a half, Conor fades. There’s not a lot of pop on that left hand anymore. Footwork goes down, his hands are heavy. These are things that you can watch and see so these are no secret to what’s going on.”

That could mean an especially conservative opening round from Cerrone (who has a history of starting slow anyway). As Vanier noted, “For us, it’s just a matter of capitalizing on those things. Making sure we’re very aware; eyes open in that first round, stay away from that left hand. We stay away from that left hand, it’s going to be a short night.”

Cerrone has been stopped seven times in his 50-fight career, with six of those stoppages coming via TKO/KO—and four of those in the first round. His most recent bout, against Justin Gaethje, was a brutal reminder of exactly what could be in store for the BMF Ranch owner, if he doesn’t stay sharp defensively early.

On the flip side, McGregor has finished 19 of his 21 wins inside the distance, with 13 first round KOs. However, all four of his professional MMA losses have come inside the distance as well, and all by submission. Given Cerrone’s 17 submission wins, the opportunity for a massive upset may just be there if he can survive the early onslaught.

UFC 246 takes place on January 18th, in Las Vegas, NV. The event is expected to be headlined by the welterweight action-fight between Donald Cerrone and Conor McGregor. A women’s bantamweight rematch between Holly Holm and Raquel Pennington is scheduled for the co-main event.