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Welcome to the Conor McGregor show everyone! The UFC returns to Boston for the first time since 2013 showcasing the always entertaining Irishman with an undefeated UFC record. A win over Dennis Siver will vault McGregor into title contention and it’s a fight that promises a spectacular finish. Longtime friendly rivals Benson Henderson and Donald Cerrone, who engaged in entertaining clashes in WEC will complete their trilogy in the co-main slot. Dynamic striker Uriah Hall takes on versatile UFC newcomer Ron Stallings while longtime vet Gleison Tibau tests the promising Norman Parke.

MAIN EVENT
Conor McGregor (-1100) vs Dennis Siver (+900)
Bellator Featherweight Championship (145 lbs)

The UFC is making it no secret who their favourite is. The brash McGregor has won all four of his UFC fights with three coming by first round knockout. He is one of the biggest featherweights with a 74” reach (longest in the division) and uses slick footwork and a diverse arsenal of strikes to finish opponents in a flash. His greatest asset is his mental game as he easily controls the psychological makeup of the fight.

Siver is possibly the most under showcased main eventer. Playing the role of “jobber”, Siver is still an underrated grappler whose stocky bulky physique can pose problems up close. His background in kickboxing also lends him his own diverse set of attacks. Don’t sleep on Siver.

McGregor has the youth, speed and size advantage. This is a complete mismatch from the striking category and Siver’s best shot is to bring McGregor down and not fight him in open space. Siver may pull a few surprises but McGregor will snuff him quick and earn his title shot.

Prediction: Conor McGregor def. Dennis Siver via KO (Round 1)

 

CO-MAIN EVENT
Benson Henderson (-130) vs Donald Cerrone (+120)
Lightweight Bout (155 lbs)

Benson Henderson vs Donald Cerrone
Benson Henderson and Donald Cerrone in WEC; via cdn2.sbnation.com

The Benson Henderson-Donald Cerrone trilogy happens in a most unexpected way as Cerrone fights his longtime WEC rival on two weeks’ notice. Henderson is 2-0 against Cerrone but momentum is on Cowboy’s side as he’s coming off six consecutive wins while Henderson lost by TKO for the first time in his Zuffa career. They last clashed in WEC 48 over five years ago and both have changed dramatically since.

The x-factor will be which fighter gets off to a better start as both are slow starters. Henderson has the grappling edge and is the stronger of the two fighters but Cerrone’s unpredictable striking is key. If the fight moves beyond the first round, Henderson may have the slight advantage with his unrelenting pressure to suppress Cerrone’s highly offensive game.

If Cerrone keeps his distance, he out-points or even finishes Henderson especially early in the fight but if Henderson moves the fight into a telephone booth, it’s his game and the judges seem to favour his style. Coin flip fight but look for Cerrone to keep the fight standing long enough to finally defeat Henderson by the skin of his teeth.

Prediction: Donald Cerrone def. Benson Henderson via Unanimous Decision

 

Uriah Hall (-840) vs Ron Stallings (+660)
Middleweight Bout (185 lbs)

In the span of two weeks, Uriah Hall’s opponents changed twice and is now fighting super late replacement, Ron Stallings. A late fight notice is a detriment to both fighters as Hall gets a very brief time to make the right preparations and Stallings barely gets a training camp.

Stallings is a well-rounded fighter with a 12-6 record; all wins coming via a finish. Not only is he diminished due to a nonexistent training camp but his greatest strength, his striking, is also Hall’s and he’s outmatched. Barring an injury to Hall he should secure the victory here even if he only fights to half his capabilities as he’s notoriously known for.

Prediction: Uriah Hall def. Ron Stallings via TKO (Round 2)

 

Gleison Tibau (-135) vs Norman Parke (+125)
Lightweight Bout (155 lbs)

Tibau and Parke kick things off in a lightweight fight that is likely to determine if Norman Parke is ready for top-15 fights. The Northern Irishman is undefeated in the UFC 4-0-1 and hasn’t lost since 2010. Tibau represents a significant step up in competition.

Parke is well-rounded with a background in judo, freestyle wrestling and boxing. He prefers to keep the fight on its feet. He’s the better striker and has better footwork. Tibau is the division’s largest fighter and uses that size to wear out his opponents with his pressure-oriented BJJ. Tibau has one of the best defensive grappling even Sambo phenom, Khabib Nurmagomedov could take the burly Brazilian down.

If the fight stays standing, Parke could dance around flat-footed Tibau. However, keeping the Brazilian away for fifteen minutes is unlikely and once Tibau closes the gap, Parke may be hard-pressed to do much. Like most Tibau fights, it will be a close decision that ends in his favour.

Prediction: Gleison Tibau def. Norman Parke via Split Decision
RECORD (as of January 17)
Preview Record: 5-5 (50%)
Underdogs Picked: 1/3 (33%)
UFC Record: 2-3 (40%)
*Odds courtesy of BestFightOdds.com (5Dimes) (updated as of 01/17)

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