Over the years, the UFC has had many stars drawing the eyes of fight fans around the world. Perhaps none though, have shone quite as bright as Conor McGregor. The outspoken Irishman has made headlines, both good and bad, over the past few years but whether you love him or hate him, odds are you’re going to watch him when he steps into the octagon.
That will be the case tomorrow night as McGregor will be locked in the cage for the first time in well over a year to face off against Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone in what is sure to be an extremely exciting bout. And if that’s not enough, there’s also a fight between two big-time contenders in the Women’s bantamweight division and a meeting between two heavyweights with some serious grappling skills.
Let’s take a closer look at those three bouts:
Heavyweight bout: Aleksei Oleinik vs. Maurice Greene
Whenever you think of a heavyweight fight in the UFC, you probably think of two huge guys throwing their hands wildly until one of them hits the canvas. That is not likely to be the case here though as both of these guys prefer to use their grappling skills to win fights. Greene has seen four of his eight wins come by submission and has never been submitted himself.
Oleinik, who has much more experience than Greene, has 45 wins by way of submission and has shown off a variety of chokes. Both of these fighters are also coming off of knockout losses, so look for them to be a bit cautious on the feet at first before trying to take this fight to the ground.
Women’s Bantamweight bout: Holly Holm vs. Raquel Pennington
The night’s co-main event will actually be a rematch of a 2015 bout between two of the best in the Women’s Bantamweight division. The first fight ended in a split decision win for Holm, but Pennington has come a long way since then, winning five of her last seven fights. Her only losses since have come by way of knockout against the dominant champion Amanda Nunes (which seems to happen to everyone) and a decision against Germaine de Randamie who just put up a tough fight against the champ last month. Look for a much improve Pennington in this one.
The script is flipped however when it comes to Holm, who is only 4-5 since that win over Pennington nearly five years ago. In fact, since her signature knockout win over Ronda Rousey, Holm is just 2-5 in her last seven fights, again with one of those losses coming to Nunes. That doesn’t change the fact though that she is still one of the most dangerous strikers in the UFC and the third-ranked contender in the Women’s Bantamweight division. This should be a very close fight with a lot on the line for both fighters.
Welterweight bout: Conor McGregor vs. Donald Cerrone
Talk about a high-profile fight. This bout matches up maybe the biggest and most controversial star in the history of the UFC against the single winningest fighter to ever step into the octagon. This is possibly the biggest fight ever to not include a UFC championship.
There is one thing working against this fight however. Both of these guys are coming off of a loss. For Cerrone, it’s actually back-to-back TKO losses to Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje, two of the best the Lightweight division have to offer. For McGregor, it was a very one-sided submission loss to dominant Lightweight champ Khabib Nurmagomedov all the way back in October 2018.
Cerrone may not be on a hot streak, but one thing he never has to deal with is ring rust. “Cowboy” fought four times in 2019 and is tied for the record in number of fights in a calendar year with five. As I mentioned before, he also holds the UFC record for most wins with 23. Will any of that matter though? Yes, Conor has been out of the octagon for well over a year and yes, he’s lost two of his last four fights. However, that doesn’t change the fact that he is maybe the single most talented fighter to ever step into that cage (aside from maybe Jon Jones). This is truly the perfect example of a matchup pitting relentless hard work and determination against pure, raw talent. I personally can’t wait to see which wins out.
UFC 246 will be held tomorrow night, Saturday, January 18 at 10 PM ET. Fight fans can order the pay per view through ESPN+ and receive a special offer: $84.98 for UFC 246 and an ESPN+ annual plan. ESPN+ subscribers can order the pay per view for $59.99.