The Conor McGregor Show enters its final stage before a title shot is granted as the 'Notorious' faces off against Dennis Siver in Boston on a Sunday night UFC Fight Night event. If McGregor prevails, he'll receive a featherweight title shot opposite Jose Aldo. If not, well, he'll have a fair amount of crow to eat. The card also features a trilogy fight between two top former WEC and current UFC lightweights.
Will McGregor make good on his predictions of success or is Siver ready to play spoiler? I answer these questions and more with my predictions for Sunday night's fights.
What: UFC Fight Night: McGregor vs. Siver (UFC Fight Night 59)
Where: TD Garden, Boston, Mass.
When: Sunday, the two-fight Fight Pass card starts at 6 p.m. ET, the six-fight Fox Sports 1 main card starts at 7 p.m. and the four-fight Fox Sports 1 card kicks off 10 p.m.
Conor McGregor vs. Dennis Siver
There are lots of really positive things to say about Siver. He's highly experienced. He comes in physically prepared. There is a measure of his game, particularly in the outside kicking department, that is unorthodox while being effective. He's well-rounded and can score offensively from most positions. His wrestling isn't great, but it's hardly bad.
I'm still not sure how much of this will matter in the end. The major issue for me is Siver's hittable, too, in long-range exchanges. Add to that his chin not being bad necessarily, but not made of iron either. I suspect he's going to get clipped and from there, the show will soon be over. Siver will likely try to keep things in close, attempt takedowns and more. And whether that would matter against someone who specializes in wrestling is a question we'll have to answer another day. For this event, though, my guess is Siver's wrestling and close-quarters fighting won't be enough.
Donald Cerrone vs. Benson Henderson
My best guess is their third fight will be a mix of their first and second. In the first fight, it was a back and forth with both fighters scoring with huge strikes and both having moments in grappling exchanges. The second was much more straightforward. Cerrone tapped to a guillotine pretty quickly. Cerrone is closer to Henderson in ability than some may give him credit. He can easily strike on the outside with him and his defensive wrestling, while not as proactive as it needs to be, is much better. The problem is Cerrone's game is just a better version of what it already was. There's not much new about it. He didn't add in things that were clearly missing. He's still willing to play guard, for example. Against someone like Henderson, that doesn't inspire confidence about his overall chances.
Uriah Hall vs. Ron Stallings
Stallings is a DC guy, so I've had the chance to watch his game for years. He is respectably complete as a fighter, but cannot match Hall's athleticism or speed. He also doesn't have the same type of striking versatility. That isn't to say his weapons should be ignored, but that they are more conventional in nature. Stallings has an offensive clinch, loves to throw knees from that position, has a very respectable guard and decent short-range boxing. He isn't necessarily a powerhouse, though, and while his wrestling has steadily improved, it doesn't have the snap and pop it needs to marry disparate portions of his offense. In the end, I'm not sure when Hall gets it done, but he's too defensively sound against Stallings' strengths while possessive of his own serious firepower.
I just get the sense here Tibau is going to do what he normally does, at least of late. He'll strike on the outside until that doesn't go his way where he will then proceed to wrestle. Whatever else one wants to say about him, the guy's wrestling is very good on both offense and defense. Add to that his physical advantages and it's hard to see a way Parke stays out from under him.
From the preliminary card:
Sean Spencer def. Cathal Pendred
Lorenz Larkin def. John Howard
Chris Wade def. Zhang Lipeng
Patrick Holohan def. Shane Howell
Johnny Case def. Frankie Perez
Charles Rosa def. Sean Soriano
Matt Van Buren def. Sean O'Connell
Joby Sanchez def. Tateki Matsuda