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‘Cowboy’ Cerrone’s head coach on Conor McGregor: ‘We just have to worry about a left hand and that first round’

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

If Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone avoids Conor McGregor’s powerful left hand and he gets past the first eight minutes of the fight, he should walk away victorious at UFC 246.

That’s according to his head coach Jafari Vanier, whose job not only involves getting Cerrone ready for the fight on Jan. 18 but he needs to analyze everything that McGregor brings into the five round, main event showdown.

“If I were to look at the two, he’s got a lot more to worry about than we do,” Vanier said about McGregor on Cerrone’s “More Than a Cowboy” series on Amazon. “We’ve got multiple submission victories, head kick knockout victories, we’ve got decisions. He’s just got a left hand. You don’t see Conor submitting anybody. You don’t see the guy going on the ground, very rare. Not saying we’re going to force the fight to the ground but what I’m saying is he’s got a lot more to worry about than we do.

“We just have to worry about a left hand and that first round, him coming out on fire. You’ve never really seen “Cowboy” ever gas. After the first round, round and a half, Conor fades. There’s not a lot of pop on that left hand anymore. Footwork goes down, his hands are heavy. These are things that you can watch and see so these are no secret to what’s going on.”

McGregor has definitely faced fierce criticisms for his struggles with conditioning in the past, especially his first fight against Nate Diaz where he dominated the opening round but then began to fade once the action started in round two.

As far as the left hand goes, McGregor has utilized that weapon to devastating effect throughout his career. That said, McGregor has found ways to win beyond his knockout power including a majority decision victory in his rematch with Diaz in 2016.

Cerrone’s coaches obviously don’t discount the inherent danger that could come from McGregor beyond his primary weapon but Vanier just sees that as the biggest threat going into the fight.

“For us it’s just a matter of capitalizing on those things,” Vanier said. “Making sure we’re very aware, eyes open in that first round, stay away from that left hand. We stay away from that left hand, it’s going to be a short night.”

When it comes to his own assessment of the former two-division UFC champion, Cerrone has nothing but compliments when it comes to his next opponent.

Cerrone has never spent much time tearing down the fighters about to face him inside the Octagon and McGregor will be no different.

“Very talented guy,” Cerrone said about McGregor. “Very talented, yeah, absolutely. It was cool watching him grow. The coolest part was when he would call the moves out and then go out and execute it.”

McGregor has definitely called his shot in the past but Cerrorne’s coaches have nothing but confidence that he can get the job done on Jan. 18.

“Cowboy’s the f*cking real deal,” striking coach Joe Schilling said. “Any day of the week, he’s the best fighter in the world.”