UFC 246: McGregor vs. Cowboy Preview

UFC prefers to have the main events of their high-tier cards with a championship belt attached. You see that nearly every time there’s a pay-per-view. But, sometimes, they make exceptions. Sometimes due to the main event being scrapped last minute, and other times due to large star power. This was seem in November, with Jorge Masvidal and Nate Diaz fighting in Madison Square Garden for an imaginary belt, “The Baddest M*****F*****” belt. Masvidal’s explosive mainstream rise in 2019 allowed him to pair himself with Diaz, and draw a fair amount of viewers.

This exception will be made yet again this weekend, with arguably the biggest UFC star in the last decade, Conor McGregor, making his octagon return against Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone. The fight is easily the lowest-caliber one McGrgeor has seen in a long time, although a good test for a star who has lost more than he has won in recent years.

With those losses lies a question of when the diamond that is McGregor will lose his value. Can McGregor afford to lose again, better-yet to a fighter who is a gatekeeper to the division? Well, to answer that question would be getting ahead of ourselves, because it’s not a relevant question unless he actually loses. And that will be found out this weekend in the main event of UFC 246.

As it is a pay-per-view event, the card features many recognizable names to UFC fans throughout. Live this Saturday from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, let’s preview this weekend’s UFC 246 card.

Bout 1: Sabina Mazo (7-1) vs. JJ Aldrich (8-3) (Flyweight)

The evening will begin at 6:30PM EST with three fights on the UFC Fight Pass early prelims. The first of the trio is between flyweights Sabina Mazo and JJ Aldrich. Two fights into her UFC career, Mazo has a 1-1 record, recently winning over Shana Dobson via decision. Aldrich has much more experience in the big leagues, with a 4-2 record since joining the UFC in 2016.

Bout 2: Ode Osbourne (8-2) vs. Brian Kelleher (19-10) (Bantamweight)

Dana White’s Contender Series winner Ode Osbourne will see his UFC debut in a fight against Brian Kelleher, who will try to break his two-fight losing streak. Osbourne finished Armando Villarreal with an armbar within a round on the Contender Series to earn his contract. Kelleher last lost to Montel Jackson in late 2018. He was absent throughout 2019, as a scheduled fight in May against Mitch Gagnon was cancelled due to an injury.

Bout 3: Aleksa Camur (5-0) vs. Justin Ledet (9-2) (Light Heavyweight)

The fight following Osbourne versus Kelleher is one that feels like the exact same scenario. Aleksa Camur, who got a UFC contract through the Contender Series will face Justin Ledet, who is on a two-fight losing streak. Camur has won all five of his pro fights via strikes, being undefeated as a pro and amateur. Ledet’s last fight saw him fall victim to the unpredictable striking of Johnny Walker, back in February.

Bout 4: Nasrat Haqparast (11-2) vs. Drew Dober (21-9) (Lightweight)

At 8PM EST, the preliminary card will switch to ESPN (TSN 3 in Canada) for four more bouts. The first of the group is a lightweight bout between Nasrat Haqparast and Drew Dober. After a road bump UFC debut against Marcin Held, Haqparast has won three in a row, most recently over Joaquim Silva. Dober has much more experience in the UFC, fighting for the promotion since 2013. His most recent win saw him stop Polo Reyes in just over a minute.

Bout 5: Tim Elliott (15-9-1) vs. Askar Askarov (10-0-1) (Flyweight)

In September, Askar Askarov made his UFC debut, wagering his undefeated record. And while he remained undefeated, he did not see the satisfaction of a win, going to a draw against Brandon Moreno. This time around he will face Tim Elliott, who has a 2-3 record in the UFC, recently losing to Deiveson Figueiredo. In a thin division like the flyweight one, a win could bring either fighter into higher relevance.

Bout 6: Andre Fili (20-6) vs. Sodiq Yusuff (10-1) (Featherweight)

Since winning a contract on Dana White’s Contender Series, Sodiq Yusuff has been flawless in the UFC at 3-0. Now, he will see the biggest challenge of his career so far, facing Andre Fili. The now-UFC veteran has a 7-5 record within the promotion.

Bout 7: Maycee Barber (8-0) vs. Roxanne Modafferi (23-16) (Flyweight)

Still undefeated three fights into her UFC career, Maycee Barber could easily be the top flyweight prospect. However, her next matchup should be a good text, as she will face Roxanne Modafferi. “The Happy Warrior” has been fighting since 2003, with a current 2-3 record in the UFC. There’s no doubt that Modafferi’s advantage in this matchup is experience. However, experience means nothing until it’s used in competition. Many have written off Modafferi, with Vegas odds having her as a heavy underdog.

Bout 8: Anthony Pettis (22-9) vs. Diego Ferreira (16-2) (Lightweight)

Kicking off the pay-per-view portion of the card at 10PM EST will be Anthony Pettis and Diego Ferreira. Brazil’s Ferreira has been on fire lately, on a five-fight winning streak. Pettis is coming off a loss, going to decision against Nate Diaz. In the fight before that, Pettis became the first fighter to knock out Stephen Thompson, landing a superman punch in the first round.

Claudia Gadelha versus Alexa Grasso was meant to also be on the main card, but was cancelled due to the fighters not being within a three pounds of eachother. Grasso couldn’t make the 116-pound strawweight limit, coming in at 121 pounds.

Bout 10: Alexey Oleinik (57-13-1) vs. Maurice Greene (8-3) (Heavyweight)

With a 3-1 record so far in the UFC, Maurice Greene could be described as a prospect for the heavyweight division. However, similar to the Barber/Modafferi matchup earlier in the card, he will face the extremely experienced Alexey Oleinik in his next fight. Oleinik has been finished in his last two fights, those being losses to Alistair Overeem and Walt Harris. After a three-fight winning streak, Greene saw his first UFC setback in October when he lost to Sergey Pavlovich.

Bout 11: Holly Holm (12-5) vs. Raquel Pennington (10-7) (Bantamweight)

The co-main event of the evening will see Holly Holm and Raquel Pennington compete. The fight is Holm’s return after losing to Amanda Nunes in July, failing to take the UFC Bantamweight Championship. Pennington got a split decision in the same month over Irene Aldana, snapping her losing streak. Like most of this card, this fight hasn’t gotten much attention in the media. That could be because there’s no real angle or explicit implications for whoever wins this.

Bout 12: Conor McGregor (21-4) vs. Donald Cerrone (36-13) (Welterweight)

Finally, the main event will be between “The Notorious” Conor McGregor and “Cowboy” Donald Cerrone. Like mentioned before, this fight is one for McGregor that skill-wise is the lowest quality opponent he’s gotten in a while. However, it’s not sure where his skill lies too, so this bout could be a good litmus test for him.

McGregor’s last fight was a failed attempt to win the UFC Lightweight Championship in October of 2018, tapping out to a rear naked choke in the fourth round. His last mixed-martial-arts fight before then was in fall of 2016, winning over Eddie Alvarez. Since his last fight, McGregor has found himself entrenched in controversy outside of the octagon. In August, McGregor plead guilty to assault, following an incident where he punched a man in a Dublin bar. He was given a 1,000 euro fine for the incident.

Also during the layoff, the New York Times reported that two investigations for sexual assault were launched on McGregor. When the allegations were brought up at a press conference on Wednesday, the crowd and panelists reacted negatively.

Cerrone has fought five times since McGregor last fought. He is currently on a two-fight losing streak, dropping to Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje. Before then however, Cerrone won three in a row, notably going five rounds with Al Iaquinta.

The fight is held at welterweight, which is uncommon for McGregor. Cerrone has fought in welterweight before, but not in recent bouts.

Following UFC 246, the next UFC event will be on January 25th, in Raleigh, North Carolina, USA, going head-to-head with Bellator’s show in California. The next pay-per-view event by the UFC is on February 8th, with Jon Jones attempting to defend his UFC Light Heavyweight Championship against Dominic Reyes.

Alexa Grasso vs. Claudia Gadelha Taken Off UFC 246 Card

UFC 246 has seen a change to it’s main card, as Alexa Grasso and Claudia Gadelha have been taken off of it.

The fight cancellation was done by the Nevada State Atheltic Commission on Friday, as Alexa Grasso came in over the 116-pound strawweight limit, weighing 121.5 pounds.

Nevada rules for the strawweight division are that the fighters have to be within three pounds of each other to compete.

The matchup was meant to be on the pay-per-view portion of the UFC 246 card, which is set to be headlined by Conor McGregor and Donald Cerrone in a welterweight bout.

UFC 239: Jones vs. Santos Full Report

UFC’s annual “International Fight Week” was headlined by two title fights this year. As usual, live from Las Vegas, the 12 fight card saw Champions Jon Jones and Amanda Nunes face their respective challengers, Thiago Santos and Holly Holm. The card also had big names like Jorge Masvidal, Ben Askren, Luke Rockhold and more. With knockouts, records broken and more, let’s look at UFC 239.

Bout 1: Pannie Kianzad (11-4) vs. Julia Avila (6-1) (Bantamweight)

The first fight of the evening was the debut of Julia Avila and the return to the UFC for Pannie Kianzad. Very early in the bout Kianzad had Avila pinned up against the cage. Avila turned it around, putting Kianzad up against the cage. She landed elbows and knees. They broke free for more stand-up, but Kianzad clinched up against the cage once again. Leaving clinch she landed a good two punch combo. Avila landed more strikes which backed Kianzad up against the cage. Early in the second round it was Avila who engaged in a clinch. Avila landed a takedown later on but got up shortly after. Kianzad landed a good flurry of strikes in the fourth minute which cut Avila. Avila had a flash of greatness seconds after, putting together punches which had Kianzad panicking. Avila landed a hard front kick in the final seconds of the round. Avila defended a takedown and took control on the ground as the round closed out. Kianzad was dropped with strikes a minute or so into the final round. Avila went into top position on the ground. She took her back after Kianzad rolled around. Avila tried for a rear naked choke but Kianzad got out of it. Avila stayed on control on the ground until the round concluded. Julia Avila was given the victory via the judges (30-27, 30-26 & 30-26).

My Scorecard:

FighterRound 1Round 2Round 3Total
Kianzad99927
Avila10101030

Bout 2: Chance Rencountre (13-3) vs. Ismail Naurdiev (18-2) (Welterweight)

The next bout was a welterweight battle between Chance Rencountre and Ismail Naurdiev. Early on both fighters were landing good shots. Rencountre had Naurdiev on the ground up against the cage for a while. The round ended in this position. At the start of the second round Rencountre got control on the ground again. He was on Naurdiev’s back this time. He started to throw punches. Naurdiev flipped over, but Rencountre still had half guard. They stayed in this position until the round concluded. Rencountre shot for another takedown twice in the third round but Naurdiev defended it. Both fighters had strong punches despite being visibly fatigued. Halfway through the round, Rencountre got on Naurdiev’s back once again. He flattened out Naurdiev and started to land punches. Naurdiev landed a takedown in the final seconds. Chance Rencountre was victorious, winning via scorecards (29-27, 29-28 & 30-27).

My Scorecard:

FighterRound 1Round 2Round 3Total
Rencountre101010
Naurdiev989

Bout 3: Jack Marshman (23-8) vs. Edmen Shahbazyan (9-0) (Middleweight)

In the final early prelim bout, Jack Marshman faced a young and undefeated Edmen Shahbazyan. Joe Rogan pointed out that Shahbazyan was born the year he started to call UFC fights. In the first minute of the bout Shahbazyan landed a takedown. From above he landed hard punches. He put in a rear naked choke which made Marshman tap out in no time. Edmen Shahbazyan extended his undefeated record into double digits in a short bout.

My Scorecard:

FighterRound 1Round 2Round 3Total
Marshman



Shahbazyan



Bout 4: Alejandro Perez (21-7-1) (#13) vs. Yadong Song (14-4) (Bantamweight)

Starting off the preliminary card on ESPN was Alejandro Perez versus Yadong Song. The fight had close striking until Song dropped Perez cold with a right hook to end the fight.

My Scorecard:

FighterRound 1Round 2Round 3Total
Perez



Song



Bout 5: Claudia Gadelha (16-4) (#5) vs. Randa Markos (9-6-1) (#14) (Strawweight)

In the first matchup that had two ranked fighters, Claudia Gadelha faced Randa Markos. Throughout the first round both fighters kept a hunched over stance and were somewhat inactive. The second round was much like the first except Gadelha shot for a takedown in the final seconds which wasn’t successful. The fight went the distance to the displeasure of the audience. The judges gave the fight to Claudia Gadelha (30-27, 30-27 & 30-27). 

My Scorecard:

FighterRound 1Round 2Round 3Total
Gadelha10101030
Markos99927

Bout 6: Marlon Vera (15-5-1) vs. Nohelin Hernandez (10-2) (Bantamweight)

In another bantamweight bout, Marlon Vera fought Nohelin Hernandez. Vera took Hernandez’s back early in the first round. He tried for a rear naked choke for many minutes before transitioning into an armbar. Hernandez landed punches which got him out of the armbar predicament. Hernandez put in a d’arce choke as the round concluded. In the second round Hernandez got top position on the ground. He landed some punches before leaving the position, letting Vera stand up as well. Vera connected with a knee in stand-up which put Hernandez on the ground. Vera put in a rear naked choke which made Hernandez tap out.

My Scorecard:

FighterRound 1Round 2Round 3Total
Vera9


Hernandez10


Bout 7: Arnold Allen (14-1) vs. Gilbert Melendez (22-7) (Featherweight)

After a near two year break, Gilbert Melendez returned in this next fight to face Arnold Allen. This match concluded the preliminary card. The first round had Allen out-striking Melendez. The second round felt like more of the same. Allen landed a takedown in the first minute of the third round. They went back to their feet shortly after. All three judges gave the fight to Arnold Allen (30-27, 30-27 & 30-27).

My Scorecard:

FighterRound 1Round 2Round 3Total
Allen10101030
Melendez99927

Bout 8: Michael Chiesa (14-4) vs. Diego Sanchez (29-11) (Welterweight)

Moving to the main card, Michael Chiesa fought Diego Sanchez in a welterweight bout. A lot of the talk this weekend is from Diego Sanchez having one cornerman for this fight who doesn’t have much experience in MMA. Besides the absurdity, there is a possible health risk as a corner is supposed to look out for the health of their fighter. He sprinted out with a towel over his head during the walkout. In the first ten seconds of the fight Sanchez shot for a takedown. Chiesa was controlling on the ground, trying for a few submission holds. They stood back up where Chiesa landed some good knees. After being in a clinch for a while Chiesa threw Sanchez back to the ground. Chiesa took his back and put in a rear naked choke, but Sanchez escaped. He landed some elbows to the head and tried for it again but Sanchez escaped. They stood back up into clinch. Sanchez brought it back to the ground but Chiesa took the dominant position once again. The first round was a one-sided affair. Chiesa was the one to shoot for a takedown early in the second. He landed some punches to the head before they stood up once again. At one point Chiesa flattened out Sanchez and started to throw unanswered strikes. He put in a rear naked choke up Sanchez got out. Chiesa tried for a kimura until the second round concluded. The third round was another dominant one where Chiesa was always in control on the ground. The judges all had it in favour of Michael Chiesa (30-26, 30-26 & 30-26).

My Scorecard:

FighterRound 1Round 2Round 3Total
Chiesa10101030
Sanchez98825

Bout 9: Luke Rockhold (16-4) vs. Jan Blachowicz (23-8) (#6) (Light Heavyweight)

In-between fights news broke that Khabib Nurmagomedov and Nate Diaz got into an incident in the crowd at the event. Security separated them before things got out of control. The next bout was Luke Rockhold versus Jan Blachowicz. After landing many kicks, Rockhold shot for a takedown. He tried for a few minutes but never secured it. As the horn went at the end of the round, Blachowicz fired off a fury of strikes including a kick after the horn which dropped Rockhold. Rockhold stepped towards Blachowicz after the bell as if he was either angry or not sure if the round ended. In the second round Rockhold was hit with punches that made him fall like a tree. Referee Herb Dean stepped in shortly after to end the bout.

My Scorecard:

FighterRound 1Round 2Round 3Total
Rockhold9


Blachowicz10


Bout 10: Ben Askren (19-0) (#5)  vs. Jorge Masvidal (33-13) (#4) (Welterweight)

In the next bout, two high ranked welterweights in Ben Askren and Jorge Masvidal faced off in a grudge match. In the first few seconds of the bout, Masvidal landed a flying knee which immediately knocked out Askren cold. Masvidal was in his face right after the fight ended. Ending at five seconds, it was the quickest fight in UFC history. Askren was guided out of the octagon before the decision was made. 

My Scorecard:

FighterRound 1Round 2Round 3Total
Askren



Masvidal



Bout 11: Holly Holm (12-4) (#2) vs. Amanda Nunes (17-4) (UFC Bantamweight Championship)

In the co-main event slot of the evening, we had Holly Holm challenge Amanda Nunes for her UFC Bantamweight Championship. The first round was close until Nunes landed a kick to the head right her right leg which ended it.

My Scorecard:

FighterRound 1Round 2Round 3Round 4Round 5Total
Holm





Nunes





Bout 12: Thiago Santos (21-6) (#2) vs. Jon Jones (24-1) (UFC Light Heavyweight Championship)

The main event of the evening was Thiago Santos challenging Jon Jones for his Light Heavyweight Championship. Jones had a huge reach advantage in this fight. Santos circled the outside while Jones stayed in the inside of the octagon. Jones caught a leg kick from Santos and tried a spinning back elbow when exiting the hold. Santos threw a few kicks to the leg in the opening minutes. After a combination of punches were thrown, Jones’ mouthpiece fell out. He put it back in and they continued. At the start of the second round the commentators claimed Santos hurt himself after throwing a kick. Santos fell and then was hit with a kick to the mid-section around halfway through the round. Santos landed some good combinations of kicks and punches as the round wound down. Santos kept exploding with punches in the third. Jones threw a flying knee but it either didn’t phase Santos or didn’t land. Santos slipped after throwing a leg kick, and was hit with an elbow when getting up. The elbow cut open Santos along the hairline. Jones landed a good head kick with 90 seconds in the third round. The crowd started to boo in the fourth round. Both fighters slowed their already slow pace, although Santos still exploded with punches a couple of times. Jones was often the one coming forward. Near the end of the round Santos’ injury became more apparent as he seemed to get the worst out of a kick that he threw. Santos continued with combinations in the fifth round, but it never seemed to hurt Jones. Jones threw more low kicks in this round to take advantage of the injury. The fight went all five rounds. Jon Jones got the victory via split decision (48-47, 48-47 & 48-47).

My Scorecard:

FighterRound 1Round 2Round 3Round 4Round 5Total
Santos101099947
Jones9910101048

UFC returns next week with a fight night from Sacramento, California. Germaine de Randamie and Aspen Ladd headline the 13 fight card. UFC veteran and Hall of Famer Urijah Faber returns in the co-main event, facing Ricky Simon. The next PPV is on July 27th, with Max Holloway defending his Featherweight Championship against Frankie Edgar.