THIS ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN ALMOST A YEAR AGO. BUT NOW THAT THE FIGHT IS CONFIRMED ITS A GREAT READ IF I DO SAY SO MY SELF CHECK IT OUT AND ALWAYS STAY BANANAS!!!
Now this fight has not been confirmed in anyway, but both fighters seem to be intrigued with the chance at squaring off in the octagon and putting on a display of pugilism in monumental fashion. I thought it would be fun to go ahead and break down the different but effective striking styles that each of these men have. Both men are regarded as two of the top strikers in MMA today and have proven to deliver on most occasions when either enters the cage. So let us begin. First let’s address how much fun the build up to this fight will be. If both warriors agree to fight and contracts are signed, we can expect a couple of great things to come besides the fight itself. The Twitter and Instagram war should be epic dialogue along with any media interviews which should have plenty of one liners to feed off of. The press conferences and media obligations could turn out to be a roasting session or even a drinking party between the two. Not sure if they will be exchanging insults and wise cracks or beers and shots of whiskey. Either way the fans and the media are going to love it. Lastly, in this category, there will be the promo videos. WOW is all that should be said because as long as the UFC promo department has imagination or creativity, the highlights alone from these two fighters will have us drooling for this fight to happen.
Okay now for the main course. The clash of two different but proven striking styles. First let us dive into Donald Cerrone’s elite level Muay Thai striking. He has a professional record of 28-0 with 18 (T)KO’s in Muay Thai. He has a MMA record of 35 wins 11 loses and 1 no contest with 10 wins via knockout. That’s 28 knockout in 75 fights. Which gives him a knockout percentage of 37% in his fighting career. That’s damn impressive. Cowboy also holds the UFC’s record for most wins and finishes in the promotions history. During those fights he’s also garnered the most performance of the night bonuses among all fighters on the UFC roster. Cowboy now has his sights set on the biggest name in MMA, Conor McGregor. It’s widely known throughout the combative sports community that both these guys prefer to stand. Yes, Cowboy has a lot of submissions on his record, but most have come after he knocked his opponent down from the stand-up game he possess. For this piece, I would suggest we stick with the stand-up side of the fight. Fights of any kind all start out on the feet and that’s where I believe the majority of this fight (should it come to fruition) will take place, especially in the first two rounds. Cowboy’s striking consists of power kicks and fantastic combos. He really puts his hands and feet together extremely well and in a variety of ways. He is very adapted at changing levels with his strikes from head shots to body and back all in the same flow. He also has great broken rhythm combos, meaning he pauses slightly in the middle of a combo to let his opponent move to the position he wants or to disrupt the defensive moves of his opponent. This makes for devastating power shots to be landed. Some of his head kick finishes have come this way. Cowboy possesses a very good jab. when he starts finding a home for it, that’s when the combos start rattling off. The flow of Cowboy’s striking is what really gives his opponents problems. He gets a lather going and his timing and precision really come into play. Opponents start out getting hit with one or two shots here and there. Then a couple hard jabs land and boom you’re getting tagged by body shots, leg kicks, hard power right hands and a freight train of a head kick puts you in no man’s land with the end coming very soon. This is something that plays out time and time again when Cowboy is being successful in the octagon. Bottom line is Donald Cerrone has all of the needed fire power offensively to end anyone’s night quick and painfully. His defensive game in the striking aspect is where he will need to be solid at. Cowboy will need to focus on judging range and distance very accurately against Conor for defensive and offensive purposes. One of the biggest weapons he will have to utilize is his monstrous leg kicks. Chopping McGregor’s legs will prove to be very important in this match-up. It will help to slow down the pressure that Conor likes to apply during matches. It should also start to take away from his opponent’s natural knockout power. Anything to get McGregor’s energy levels down early will bode well for Cowboy, since it’s widely known that Conor has had gas problems in fights that go past the second round. So the keys to victory in the stand-up game for Cowboy are chopping Conor’s front leg, getting his rhythm started early and landing solid combos allowing for less big left hand counters from Conor. And if he can’t get McGregor out of there early, he will need to make sure he has the cardio to take him in deep water and pour on the strikes in the later rounds.
Conor McGregor has a completely different style when it comes to striking and fighting for that matter. The Notorious comes with a style based in boxing and Taekwondo. His hands are definitely his top weapon but he throws back kicks and sidekicks in there along with snapping front kicks to keep his opponents at the range he wants them. He is a pressure fighter that draws out his opponent’s movements and strikes so he can counter them at his will. He has one of the most gifted eyes for range and distance. His timing and precision on his strikes are up there with the best of the best. Conor also has the biggest equalizing factor in striking combat: real one punch knockout power. This truly makes him dangerous for any opponent. Conor’s power does seem to fade as the fight goes on, but in the first two rounds he has plenty of it to land a punch that will make is opponent go night night. McGregor has incorporated his kicking motion and stance into his boxing very seamlessly. He moves in and out of range as if he were doing sport Karate or Taekwondo, but uses boxing style punches generating more power on delivery than the traditional martial art punches. Something Conor does well is he sets traps with his pressure, such as baiting his opposition to throw and seeing how they react to his faints. Against orthodox stance fighters he hand fights with his lead right against their lead left which eliminates their jab and left hook and baits them to throw a straight right or some other power right. This is what he is really looking for. Once he can get you to throw the punches he wants by eliminating the other hand , he can then time and counter with his power left at the precise moment (i.e. :McGregor vs Jose Aldo). In this fight with Cowboy, I think Conor will employ a similar strategy that Darren Till used, which ended in Till finishing Cerrone. McGregor like Till should stay at the edge of his range while pressuring forward throwing jabs and hooks and rear left kicks to keep Cowboy guessing until he finds an opening to land the one notorious shot he is looking for. Once McGregor hurts his opponent and smells blood in the water he begins to unload in technical and methodical fashion. He preys on his opposition like a shark taking more and more chunks out of them with every attack until they lay helpless or lifeless on the canvas. Conor has really developed a unique striking style that fits his body and ability very well. He stays within himself and because of that he has created a devastating striking arsenal. If he can get Cowboy moving backwards and guessing at attacks and timing, he should be able to impose his will in the stand-up and most likely earn himself a finish in the process. One thing is for sure though, Cowboy has a big advantage on the ground and off his back. Conor should avoid the ground at all costs and not give that chance to Cerrone. This is a mixed martial arts contest so anything could happen. But if it stays standing we are in for a beautiful display of striking that may turn out to be the best fight of the year.