Point/Counterpoint – Conor McGregor vs. ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone: Who has the edge at UFC 246?

As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, former UFC champion Conor McGregor will be making his return at UFC 246 opposite fellow fan favorite Donald Cerrone.

The event will take place on Jan. 18 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, and the headlining matchup at hand will be contested at welterweight.

McGregor (21-4 MMA, 9-2 UFC) is coming off of a failed attempt to regain his lightweight crown against current champ Khabib Nurmagomedov back at UFC 229, and has spent the bulk of 2019 with battles outside of the cage that range from formal assault charges to sexual assault allegations.

Whereas Cerrone (36-13 MMA, 23-10 UFC), who – despite starting the year off strong with wins over Alexander Hernandez and Al Iaquinta – is currently coming off of a pair of stoppage losses to two of the toughest hombres at 155 pounds in Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje.

Both men will have ample opportunity to take steps in the right direction come January, but I thought it wouldn’t hurt to lay out some of the things that I’ll be looking for from an analytical/technical perspective, using a fun point/counterpoint format to help primer the McGregor-Cerrone collision ahead.

Point: Lengthy layoff for McGregor

With most metrics traditionally indicating long layoffs as a negative, it’s hard to ignore the fact that it will be a solid 15 months since we’ve last seen McGregor compete in a cage come January.

If you count his special attraction with Floyd Mayweather inside of the boxing ring, then McGregor’s second-longest layoff comes out to 14 months; but if we’re just sticking to MMA, then his longest layoff technically jumps to a grand total of 23 months – – both of which roads resulted in a loss upon return.

Counterpoint: Prior comebacks and adjustments

Although McGregor’s most recent comeback bore little fruit, he has shown the ability to adapt and overcome adversity at earlier points of his UFC tenure.

After tearing his ACL mid-fight against Max Holloway back in 2013, McGregor took recovery and reinvigoration to a new level, making a successful return the next year (after an 11-month grand total). And in 2016, McGregor, despite suffering a crushing defeat to Nate Diaz at UFC 196 and nearly severing ties with both his head coach and the UFC that same summer, managed to turn things around in just 5 months time – showing off an improved arsenal and ability to manage pace.

Next page: “Cowboy” vs. southpaws, McGregor vs. kickers

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