Helwani, Fowlkes, Thomas & Petesy Predict McGregor vs. Cowboy

He’s back!

Conor McGregor returns to the Octagon this Saturday night for the first time in over a year as he takes in veteran American Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone. To prepare for the fight our own Sean Sheehan spoke to the biggest and best MMA journalists to hear how they think the fight will go.

Here’s what they said. (Scroll down for the audio on YouTube, sign up to listen to the full interviews HERE)

Luke Thomas

“I think that Conor is smart. I don’t like some of the things I’ve heard about how the camp might be running, but there’s still a lot of open questions and lack of clarity there so we need to be a little bit reserving in our judgement about what that all might mean. Let’s see how things go on the 18th.”

“My hunch is he’s going to go in there, and it’s going to be a very bad matchup stylistically for Cerrone. I suspect he’ll (Cerrone) land here or there, but I think Conor—unless he has truly fallen off—I think he’s going to go in there and shine. Probably a first round stoppage, if not, definitely in the second. I would say — I’ll be honest about this — if he doesn’t stop him inside three, that to me would be a very bad sign because this is somebody who when he was the Eddie Alvarez beating type, this would have been a very simple contest for him to win. So, to me, I still think he can. I still think he will. If he doesn’t, that’s a problem.”


Ariel Helwani

“What you’re saying is right. What you’re saying is very smart! If he (Cerrone) has the right gameplan, he will try to take him (McGregor) down. The casual fan may not know, but I feel that by now it’s been talked enough, he’s (Cerrone) really good on the ground, he’s really good off his back. Even GSP talked about his ground game and his wrestling.”

“He’s good, he just doesn’t like to use it. You know, this has been part of his charm. This has been part of his appeal. He’s a guy who likes to stand and trade and just go toe to toe, stand in the phone booth and just slug it out. But if he’s smart, that would be the move, what you’re saying (taking the fight to the ground).”

“I think if he goes with the typical Cowboy approach of just to stand and trade and throw caution to the wind, I think this could end relatively early. I don’t think that would be smart. So it’s one of those things where if you told me right now that the fight ends within two rounds or less, I think Conor’s going to win. I don’t see a scenario where Cerrone is going to knock him out, and I don’t think he’s going to try and take the fight to the ground or submit him (McGregor), even though I think he should. If you told me the fight goes the distance, then maybe he has a much better chance, and of course it will answer some of the questions about Conor’s cardio and him fighting at 170, is that good for his cardio etc. But I think Vegas has it right, last time I checked Cerrone is a +250 or so, and Conor’s like a -300. I feel like that’s right.”


Ben Fowlkes

“For me, the big question for Donald Cerrone is: will he look to give everybody what he thinks that they are expecting out of him, or will he look to be like “hey, how can I beat Conor Mcgregor? Where am I strong where he is weak?” and try to take the fight to those areas? Because Donald Cerrone has a great ground game, but he’s not the guy that goes out there shooting a lot of double-legs on people.”

“Watching Georges St. Pierre making his predictions, he kind of summed up a lot of my thoughts, which is if Donald Cerrone were to do this stuff that is completely antithetical to everything else we’ve seen Donald Cerrone usually do, he could very well win it.”

“But if you’re playing the odds and you’re playing everybody’s tendencies, I think that what happens is: Conor McGregor pressures Donald Cerrone early, doesn’t really let him get any kind of rhythm going and gets Cerrone to play his game. I think McGregor stings him with that left hand and probably gets a TKO in the first round.”


Petesy Carroll

“I see Conor starting, as usual, just flying into the middle of the cage and meeting him there. Basically, it’s up to Cerrone to play matador. I think the first five minutes, pick your spots! I feel like Conor is so dangerous early on. Look at the first Diaz fight even. How the fuck was Diaz in there at the end of the first round. He was throwing everything but the kitchen sink at the guy, and I have a feeling he’s going to be doing the same to Cerrone.”

“The fact that Kavanagh is talking about the championship rounds and stuff is just weird to me. I don’t think that’s the way it goes. I’d be more to the GSP line of thought where the longer this fight goes, the more it’s playing into Cerrone’s hands. So I do expect a very fast start from Conor. Can Cerrone tame it? Can he stay in there with him? But as you said, his defensive work is more important than his offensive work nearly in this fight. How are you going to deal with it when this guy is bull rushing you? How are you going to deal with that pressure? It’s insane!”

“I don’t feel as though Cerrone is a fantastic takedown expert either, so the only way you’re going to get Conor to the ground is by with a big shot that knocks him down or something, and that’s very hard to do in itself! So I feel like a lot is playing into Conor’s hands, and that’s why I feel like he’ll probably get a TKO in the second round or something, unless Cerrone can find a way to deal with him, and he hasn’t historically dealt very well with people who do what Conor does.”

Please check out these full interviews and support our patreon HERE.

Andy is a multimedia reporter, interviewer, writer, with a strong focus on Irish MMA. Co-host of The Auld Triangle podcast. You can find Andy's work on SevereMMA.com and MyMMANews.com. Follow Andy on Twitter (@andyste123) and Instagram (@andystevensonMMA).