With Conor McGregor returning to action at UFC 246 on January 18, the focus returns on the biggest superstar in the sport of mixed martial arts.
Many from his camp have hyped up his return and believe the McGregor of old is coming back.
Jan 1st, last heavy spar today before going to Vegas. Can honestly say this is the best i've seen him and i wasn't sure that was possible to do 6 months ago. You guys are in for a real treat, i'm just glad to have a good seat! #UFC246
— Coach Kavanagh (@John_Kavanagh) January 1, 2020
If that is the case, one can expect a tough night for his opponent in Donald Cerrone when they meet in a welterweight contest. However, that’s not to say Cerrone should be counted out.
After all, many would agree that “Cowboy” has more paths to victory than McGregor does. One of them should be roughing the Irishman up against the fence according to former UFC lightweight Josh Thomson.
“I would have probably tried to strike on the outside, close the distance, get in on a takedown,” Thomson said on the Weighing In podcast when asked how he would beat McGregor. “But after watching him as a fan and not so much as a fighter, I have a different outlook and perspective. I watched him against Nate [Diaz] and a couple of other guys. Him against the fence. I feel like there’s less likeliness of him to do a lot of damage. People have a hard time getting to the fence and that’s what the issue is. But I think if you want to have a chance is to rough him up against the fence. Take away his reach and his range as well as his kicks. Fight him in that clinch.
“When I watched him against Nate, to me I felt like the easiest way to beat Nate was to press him to the fence. Elbow, clinch, knees, that type of work. That made it easier for me because physically, he is not strong. So when I saw a little bit of the struggles that Conor had against Nate, just the back-and-forth that they had against the fence, I feel that was when you take away his power, his kicks, when you’re close to inside range. Those for me would have been the key points.”
Like Thomson mentioned, getting McGregor to the fence is not easy, especially if you’re not Khabib Nurmagomedov.
However, that hasn’t been a focus for many of the former two-division champion’s other opponents such as Eddie Alvarez.
“I was watching him and Eddie fight,” Thomson added. “I think Eddie should have just kept him pressed to the fence. I would have made it a focus to try to keep him as pressed to the fence as possible.
“Never giving him the space to use his punching and his power as well as his kicks. That would have been my game plan.”
Maybe something to consider for Cerrone who is not only bigger than McGregor but does some great work in the clinch too.