- Conor McGregor is a huge favorite in his return to the Octagon at UFC 246
- Will underdog Donald Cerrone spoil the the 2020 plans of McGregor and the UFC?
- See the odds and fight analysis below.
On Saturday, January 18, the UFC begins its slate of 2020 events. Headlining the first pay-per-view card of the year, UFC 246, is a welterweight matchup between former two-division champion Conor McGregor and ex-lightweight-title contender Donald Cerrone. The event takes place at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The main card pay-per-view streams live on ESPN+. Early prelims, which stream on UFC Fight Pass and ESPN+, begin at 6:15 PM ET, followed by prelims on ESPN at 8:00 PM ET. The main card kicks off at 10:00 PM ET.
McGREGOR VS CERRONE ODDS
|Fighter||Odds (as of January 15 )|
McGregor has not fought since UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov submitted him in the main event of UFC 229 in October 2018. Before that, McGregor fought three times in 2016. He split a pair of welterweight bouts with Nate Diaz that year and knocked out Eddie Alvarez to win the UFC lightweight title.
While McGregor’s been relatively inactive, Cerrone has kept up his signature style of competing as often as possible. Cerrone has fought five times since McGregor’s most-recent trip to the octagon. One of those contests took place at welterweight and the other four were at lightweight.
Cerrone is 3-2 in his last five bouts and he earned five post-fight bonuses during that stretch. He enters Saturday’s tilt on a two-fight losing skid. He was knocked out by Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje in his two most recent outings. Cerrone only has one three-fight losing skid during his lengthy career.
McGregor is a knockout artist. His most-potent asset is his left hand, which he has used multiple times during his career to plant his opponent on the mat. McGregor’s southpaw boxing style and his ability to judge distance well will be a benefit in this contest. Cerrone’s UFC record is not good against lefties. He is 4-9 in those outings.
Cerrone has a much deeper well to draw from than McGregor. His muay Thai kicking is something that McGregor has not had to deal with often during his career. Cerrone also tends to pick up the pace as the fight wears on. He’s always been a fighter who takes some time to get warmed up in his scraps. The wildcard in this matchup is Cerrone’s ground game, which is light years ahead of McGregor’s.
TALE OF THE TAPE
|Conor McGregor||Category||Donald Cerrone|
|5.27||Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute||4.34|
|4.43||Significant Strikes Absorbed Per Minute||4.23|
|0.75||Takedown Average Per 15 Minutes||1.21|
|0.0||Submission Average Per 15 Minutes||1.3|
WHAT’S AT STAKE
UFC president Dana White sees this fight, even though it is a welterweight matchup, as the first step toward a rematch between Nurmagomedov and McGregor. The thing is, to get to that rematch, McGregor has to get by Cerrone. While the odds favor McGregor to accomplish that feat, it’s not a foregone conclusion. McGregor and White also have hopes that the former two-division champion will fight three times in 2020. McGregor’s fights are some of the most lucrative on the UFC schedule. A loss to Cerrone could leave a big question mark as to just what is next for McGregor’s career.
With recent losses to top-ranked lightweights Ferguson and Gaethje, Cerrone is not next in line for a 155-pound title shot. In fact, he’s probably pretty far away from a chance at facing Nurmagomedov. The most Cerrone can hope for is to play spoiler to the plans of McGregor and the UFC.
Cerrone has always portrayed himself as a rebel; the biggest act of defiance of his career could come at UFC 246 if he can ruin the future of the man who has been the biggest moneymaker in UFC history.
The biggest concern for McGregor is the time off. His team and his coaches have said that McGregor has never looked better and never been happier in a camp. The thing about that is, everyone says that leading into a fight. Most of the news we read about McGregor since his loss to Nurmagomedov has been bad. He was arrested for knocking the phone out of a fan’s hand and punching a man in a pub. Most concerning was the revelation that McGregor was under investigation for two sexual assaults in Ireland in 2019.
The most significant worry for Cerrone is that he is usually a slow starter. If he doesn’t come out of the gate hot against McGregor, he could end up getting caught with one of McGregor’s potent left hands.
The odds of this fight would make one believe that McGregor is a runaway favorite. That might be a fact when it comes to the betting public, but let’s not forget McGregor’s fans put a decent amount of money on McGregor to beat Floyd Mayweather in a boxing match. The reality is that Cerrone is an extremely live underdog in this matchup.
If McGregor had been active since the Nurmagomedov outing and had racked up some wins, I would not hesitate to go with the Irish fighter. But he has not been busy, and that’s the reason I am siding with the American in this matchup at long odds.
Pick: Cerrone (+260)