And it’s time….for the first card of 2020 and isn’t it a jaw dropper, with the return of the ‘notorious one’, Conor McGregor, against fan favourite and future immortal, Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone. In a card laced with former champions such as Holly Holm, Claudia Gadelha and Anthony ‘Showtime’ Pettis, UFC 246 is sure to provide plenty of fireworks and entertainment as we kick off the new decade in style.
The biggest draw in MMA history, Conor McGregor, returns at UFC 246 for the first time since his submission loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229. McGregor has not won a fight since defeating Eddie Alvarez back in 2016 to claim the Lightweight title and after taking over a year off since his lost to Khabib ring rust will have to be an issue for the Irishman. The fact this is being fought at Welterweight though I don’t see as much of a factor, as both are legitimate Lightweights that can pack on some extra muscle and not have to worry about cutting weight. The real question is can Cerrone last the early onslaught from the notorious one? I believe the answer to that is no.
Many will say McGregor loses some of his power edge moving up and maybe he does to a degree but not knocking out Nate Diaz in his only Welterweight bouts is not a knock-on McGregor as Diaz can take a punch as well as anyone in the UFC. Where Cerrone will have trouble is with the forward pressure of McGregor especially early in the fight. He has struggled in the past fighting on the back foot as was the case with his loss to Darren Till and Justin Gaethje, both first round KO’s. Add to that Cerrone’s most recent comments of, “I like to get in there and throw down. Everyone says his stand-up is amazing, so why not go and test it?” is opposite to a smart strategy and if he goes in with that mentality, I don’t see it being a good night for him. McGregor is too accomplished a striker for Cerrone who unquestionably must get this to the mat where he does have a very underrated wrestling and submission game. I don’t believe he survives the early pressure punch style of McGregor who will bring his name back to the forefront and stake a new title claim.
Claudia Gadelha was originally scheduled to fight Cynthia Calvillo at UFC on ESPN 7 but withdrew as a result of an ankle injury. She returns here against what I view as a much easier opponent in Alexa Grasso. While Grasso is no slouch, all three of her professional losses came against grapplers, an area where Gadelha excels. Gadelha is tough and will press forward causing Grasso to fight on the back foot before inevitably dragging this to the mat on route to a dominant victory.
Now this is a fun fight for those who love mixed martial arts. Askar Askarov has a record of 10-0-1 with his only blemish on his record being a draw to Brandon Moreno which is no knock on him. All ten wins have been finishes, seven of which were submissions. His opponent Tim Elliot is different to anyone Askarov has fought and would be best described as awkward. He has a unique fighting style that can cause his opponents all types of problems but he has a problem of leaving his neck vulnerable in ground scrambles and that was the case in his last loss to Deiveson Figueiredo. The likelihood this becomes a battle of who can submit who in a range of insane scrambles and submission attacks makes me struggle to see how this fight will go the distance. One thing is for sure though, it is a fight that is sure to be fun while it lasts.
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