Conor McGregor vs. Diego Brandao: Full Head-to-Toe Breakdown

Nathan McCarterFeatured ColumnistJuly 16, 2014

Conor McGregor vs. Diego Brandao: Full Head-to-Toe Breakdown

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    Conor McGregor will get a fight on home soil this weekend. The No. 13-ranked featherweight contender meets Diego Brandao in the main event of UFC Fight Night 46 in Dublin on Saturday.

    McGregor exploded onto the UFC scene last year with two victories. He received one of the biggest ovations during the inaugural Fox Sports 1 event last August in a thrilling decision win over Max Holloway. Now he hopes to parlay the hype and wins into a serious title run.

    Brandao is the winner of the 14th season of The Ultimate Fighter. He is coming off a KO loss to No. 6-ranked contender Dustin Poirier and is a replacement opponent for this bout.

    Can Brandao derail the hype train of McGregor, or will the local boy do good?

    Prepare yourself with a full breakdown of the main event for this weekend's fight card.

Striking

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    This fight is likely to take place on the feet more than the mat. These two fighters love to exchange strikes.

    Brandao and McGregor both possess fight-ending knockout power. The difference comes down to technique.

    McGregor is the more technically sound fighter. Brandao can get wild in his strikes. He is an aggressive fighter, while McGregor is more cerebral with his strikes. The Irishman also loves to counterpunch.

    Brandao has the tools to win on the feet, but it is an uphill climb against McGregor. The Brazilian's overaggressive style can open up plenty of holes for McGregor to exploit. It is a style that plays right into McGregor's strength on the feet.

    Edge: McGregor

Grappling

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    This category is essentially a wash. It is evenly matched, and whoever sets up his grappling with strikes better will get the advantage on Saturday.

    However, I will not straddle the fence. When isolating just the grappling portion of the fight, I will side with Brandao by a slim margin.

    McGregor showed off some of his takedown acumen against Max Holloway, but that is not exactly the cream of the crop in competition. And he has not had to defend a takedown inside the Octagon. Brandao has shown quality takedowns and takedown defense.

    Brandao posts 76 percent in takedown accuracy and 85 percent in takedown defense, per FightMetric. He has shown both offensive and defensive ability inside the cage. He has given up three takedowns, and two of those were to respected wrestlers Darren Elkins and Dennis Bermudez.

    I'll give the Brazilian a slight edge.

    Edge: Brandao

Submissions

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    The submission aspect of this fight swings solidly in the favor of Brandao.

    He is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt who has displayed his submission skills inside the Octagon. Both Pablo Garza and Dennis Bermudez were able to take him down, but they were promptly submitted in the first round for their troubles.

    Brandao has finished five of his career 18 wins via submission, while McGregor only has one to his credit.

    McGregor is more of a striker, but he is developing his ground game. He is more known to defend submission attempts rather than doling them out. He prefers to punish.

    If the fight hits the ground, Brandao could end up being a live underdog in this matchup. He will test McGregor's submission defense more than anyone to date.

    Edge: Brandao

X-Factors

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    Brandao's X-Factor: Cardio

    Brandao has had trouble with his cardio in the past, and he even failed to make weight for his last outing inside the cage. What kind of shape will he be in on Saturday?

    McGregor can push the pace, and he has high output. Brandao will have to work every minute of this fight.

    If he starts to fade, McGregor will easily finish this fight.

     

    McGregor's X-Factor: Returning from Injury

    McGregor has been out of action since last August due to a torn ACL. Anytime an athlete suffers a major knee injury, there are questions surrounding his return.

    There is a lot of pressure for this return bout. He is facing a significant amount of hype, and he is fighting at home. The fans and media will be eagerly anticipating this bout, but we do not know how that knee injury affected him as a fighter.

    Is he 100 percent, or will the knee injury cause a slight change in him as a fighter? Will he be more cautious? The questions will be answered on Saturday.

Prediction

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    This will be an exciting fight. It is a stylistic matchup that almost ensures it.

    Unfortunately, it won't be a prolonged encounter.

    Brandao is the perfect fighter for McGregor to torch in this Dublin matchup. The Brazilian is a well-rounded fighter who often makes sloppy mistakes.

    That will be his downfall. Brandao will try to force his offense, and McGregor will clean his clock with a precise left hook.

    It will not be a TKO. The knockout will come clean. The performance will earn McGregor some bonus money and continue his path toward the elite of the featherweight division.

    Prediction: McGregor defeats Brandao by KO in the first round.