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Intelligent, unique MMA analysis
Let’s see, how many more fights do I have to break down for this Saturday’s fight card? SEVEN?!? Yikes. Let’s get to it!
*FPR supplemented by video scouting due to lack of Fight Metric data.
When Conor McGregor was set to make his UFC debut against Marcus Brimage, I was excited by his potential. I saw him on tape against a number of opponents and thought he had the potential to be a top ten featherweight in the UFC.
After he defeated Brimage by TKO in just 67 seconds, it seems everybody else has jumped on the McGregor bandwagon – including Dana White, who immediately wanted to book McGregor to appear on this Saturday’s show in Boston. Welcome aboard, everybody!
With that said, McGregor is not a perfect fighter – far from it. In particular, his submission game is a little rough around the edges. He’s definitely improved on the ground as his career has progressed, but both of McGregor’s career losses are by submission in the first minute.
I’ve also noticed that while McGregor is excellent at distance and timing, he tends to not move his head. That got him hit 12 times by Brimage, a very high number for just 67 seconds of fighting. Of course, McGregor himself landed 21 strikes and finished the fight, so it’s hard to be too critical of him.
In the fights I watched on tape, McGregor just steamrolled his opponents. Nobody was remotely competitive with McGregor. That is how an aspiring title contender should look on the regional circuit. McGregor has a blend of aggression and knockout power that might be unmatched at 145 pounds.
What I haven’t seen is McGregor be tested by a stud wrestler like Chad Mendes. I suspect McGregor would struggle badly in that type of situation, but that’s not the kind of opponent he’s facing in Max Holloway.
I’ve gone back and forth on Holloway. There have been moments when I’ve been very impressed by Holloway’s UFC performances for a very young fighter with little experience. There have been other moments when Holloway has been a disappointment, most notably against Leonard Garcia at UFC 155.
Like McGregor, Holloway likes to stand and strike as his default mode. He’s tall and lanky for the featherweight division at 5’11” and has shown that he knows how to use his reach. In his five-fight UFC career, Holloway has landed 6.07 significant strikes per minute, one of the best rates in the promotion. It helps that Garcia was one of his opponents.
This is balanced against two things. One is that Holloway is not a good grappler in the slightest. In combined takedowns, guard passes, and submission attempts, the score is Holloway’s opponents 17, Holloway 1. The other factor is that Holloway has not faced stellar opponents in the UFC. His wins are against Garcia, Justin Lawrence, and Pat Schilling. Many would argue Holloway deserved a win against Dennis Bermudez as well. I’m inclined to agree but I would also argue Holloway was out-performed by Bermudez in total.
I don’t suspect grappling will be much of a factor in this fight. McGregor and Holloway both like to strike. In a striking match I think the breakdown is simple. Both fighters land a tremendous number of strikes, but McGregor has shown much better knockout power and better effective striking defense. There’s a chance Holloway could win on points but McGregor is the rightful favorite here.
Pick: Conor McGregor by TKO