UFC 246 takes place tomorrow night, January 18th in Las Vegas with a massive main event between Conor McGregor and Donald Cerrone and we’ve got our predictions for all the fights below.
Main Card (PPV)
Conor McGregor vs. Donald Cerrone
After being dominated by Khabib Nurmagomedov on the mat it makes sense that McGregor has chosen to fight someone like Cerrone, who is far more likely to engage with him on the feet.
It also comes at a time when Cerrone is coming off two TKO losses in a row as he begins to show real signs of deteroriation after years of fighting more frequently than anyone else on the roster.
Cerrone remains a dangerous opponent though with very good striking, including kicks on the outside, knees at closer range and combinations that can become more potent as he settles into a fight thanks to his excellent cardio.
That’s a concern for McGregor as he opted to take this fight at 170lbs where Cerrone has more experience and ‘The Notorious’ has had gas tank issues previously.
That being said, McGregor seems to be in a good state of mind and has prepared well after refocusing following a troubling few years outside of the cage, and there’s talk that he’s also added new wrinkles to his game as he looks to evolve his fighting style.
Even as he was, McGregor remains a very dangerous man, particularly with his left hand, which has always been a lazer-accurate, powerful weapon, and whether it’s on the attack or on the counter, he’ll fancy his chances of connecting with Cerrone’s compromised chin on Saturday night.
he also does well not to be overly dependent on just looking to throw that big punch though, setting it up well with other techniques that distract his opponent’s from what’s coming, while his fast, whip-like front kick to the midsection could also pay dividends as that’s been another weak point for Cerrone in the past.
The longer the fight goes the more Cerrone has a chance, especially in a five-rounder, but I think at this late stage in his career he will find the early going tough against McGregor and the Irishman’s knack for picking the right punch at the right time will lead to a second round TKO finish here.
Prediction: Conor McGregor wins by TKO in Rd2.
Holly Holm vs. Raquel Pennington
These two fought early in their UFC careers and Pennington almost upset Holm, but ultimately lost by split decision.
As is often the case, Holm operated for most of the fight on the outside, darting in and out occasionally to work brief flurries of kicks and punches that more often than not was fairly ineffective, with the fightmetric stats showing that barely any of her significant strikes to the head were actually landing.
Pennington did her best to march her down to land punches or at times counter what Holm was doing, but against such a light-footed, agile opponent with endless cardio it was no easy task.
I don’t expect we’ll see much of a difference this time around and it should be another very close fight and narrow decision verdict, but I think that Holm’s activity and energy levels, even if it doesn’t deliver much of an end-product, may still be enough to convince the judges to give her the nod again.
Prediction: Holly Holm wins by decision.
Aleksei Oleinik vs. Maurice Greene
At 42-years-old Oleinik is coming off a 12 second KO loss, following on from another first round TKO defeat, which is certainly a cause for concern heading into this latest fight.
Nevertheless, given that throughout his long career Oleinik has proven to be a master at finding submissions on the mat, he still remains a live threat in this heavyweight encounter with Greene.
That’s especially true because although Greene is a big man and is not adverse to striking, he is at his best grappling too and has generally found victory via submission in his career to date.
The problem is that Oleinik is just a much more advanced player than he is on the mat and I expect ‘The Boa Constrictor’ to showcase that with a first round submission victory.
Prediction: Aleksei Oleinik wins by submission in Rd1.
Claudia Gadelha vs. Alexa Grasso
At times Gadelha has stood out as being one the division’s elite fighters, but there’s been some disappoints along the way too in recent times and she appears to be aware of that and heading into this fight she’s looking to live up to her full potential.
The same could be said of Grasso, who came in undefeated with a lot of hype behind her, but has only managed to go 3-3 so far. The fact that she’s a relatively small strawweight likely doesn’t help her cause, but she remains a skilled boxer with good accuracy and sharp movement.
Fighters who can overpower her with wrestling has been a weakpoint for Grasso though and that doesn’t bode particularly well for her in this fight as Gadelha is a powerful grappler, not to be mention she can trade on the feet too – albeit not being as quick as her opponent.
As such I feel this is Gadelha’s fight to win comfortably on the scorecards if she lives up to her full potential.
Prediction: Claudia Gadelha wins by decision.
Anthony Pettis vs. Diego Ferreira
After bouncing around somewhat aimlessly between three different divisions in recent years, Pettis is now returning to lightweight, where he’s going to face a less high-profile fighter than he’s used to in Ferreira, but nonetheless still a challenging one who is on a five fight winning streak.
Pettis is still the fighter he used to be – dynamic and creative in attack and capable of moments of genius, but he’s been in a lot of wars now and often came out on the losing end of them, while he still has some inherent weaknesses that have continued to be exposed at times.
Dealing with being pressured is certainly ones of those, and that just happens to be what Ferreira is all about, who has somehwat of a brawler’s mentality, looking to overwhelm opponents by putting them on the back foot with pace and volume of strikes.
Ferreira is just as relentless on the mat too, although he’ll have to be careful in that regard as for all his striking prowess Pettis can also handle himself on the mat and is a threat from submissions.
Pettis certainly has a chance here as Ferreira’s defense is a weak point, but he’s a tough customer and won’t give ‘Showtime’ a chance to dig into his bag of tricks as he pressures his way to a decision victory.
Prediction: Diego Ferreira wins by decision.
Prelims (Predicted winners in bold)
Roxanne Modafferi vs. Maycee Barber
Andre Fili vs. Sodiq Yusuff
Drew Dober vs. Nasrat Haqparast
Tim Elliott vs. Askar Askarov
Aleksa Camur vs. Justin Ledet
Brian Kelleher vs. Ode Osbourne
Sabina Mazo vs. JJ Aldrich