Firas Zahabi broke down the upcoming UFC 246 main event bout between Donald Cerrone and Conor McGregor, saying he’s torn on the match up. The renowned MMA coach says he knows “Cowboy” has been “hot and cold” as of late, losing six of his last ten bouts, but his head and heart are still saying two different things.
“I’m divided on this one,” Zahabi said on his YouTube channel. “My brain is telling me ‘look, McGregor is gonna win. He’s been planning his return. He’s been training like a wild man. Cowboy’s just been taking any fight. He’s banged up. He’s later in his career. He’s had losses. He’s been hurt. He got hurt by Ferguson, he got hurt by Gaethje. What makes you think McGregor won’t hurt him?’
“Well, my brain is telling me McGregor is gonna win this fight, but my heart is telling me I want Cowboy to win,” he said. “Why? Because I know the guy. He’s a great guy. I’ve trained with him in the past. I always pick a fighter that I know. However, in this instance, I got to be really really transparent. I’ve got to tell you I really do believe that McGregor is gonna be able to tag Cowboy.
“Now he’s either gonna finish Cowboy in the first two, or it’s going to the later rounds but the damage in the first two are gonna carry McGregor in the later rounds.”
Another factor Zahabi brings up is that McGregor seems heavily motivated to make a comeback, while Cerrone might be feeling the toll of taking all those UFC fights.
“I’m assuming McGregor has been training really really hard. He wants to get back in there. He wants to be champion again. I think he’s highly highly motivated, and this is one major reason why I’m picking McGregor,” he said. “Because I feel that Cowboy is just taking fights but his body is wearing down.
“He’s been in a lot of great fights. He’s been in a lot of great fights very recently that he got hurt, so in my opinion, he can’t be this fresh,” Zahabi explained. “Cowboy’s been putting a lot of miles in his body, in a short period of time. And these are wars he’s been going through.
“His last ten fights, he’s lost six, and I think it’s because of the quick turnarounds.”
Zahabi thinks Cowboy is facing stiff odds, but can win if he sticks to a smart game plan. The Tristar Gym coach says Cowboy has to try to take it to the latter rounds with a patient approach centered on various kicks, knees and takedowns, while throwing very few punches.
He thinks it’s going to be an uphil battle, but also says having the contest at welterweight could help Cerrone.
“Here’s one plus in Cowboy’s side that I really like: this fight is at 170,” he explained. “It’s less stress for his body, and he’s done 170 against real 170 lb fighters and won.
“Yet I do still think that Conor’s gonna be able to counter punch Cowboy. He’s gonna be very aggressive. I think he’s gonna go for it, and I think he might get countered. My heart is saying Cowboy, but my brain... I think Conor is going to land those counter punches.”
Zahabi also previously broke down a different welterweight match up for McGregor, where he said it would be “the Masvidal show” after two rounds if they ended up facing each other.