Conor McGregor makes his long-awaited UFC return at UFC 246 on January 18, 2020.
The Notorious One is the first fighter to hold two UFC titles simultaneously and is the biggest pay per view draw in the history of the sport, having headlined five out of the Top 6 highest-selling UFC pay per view events of all-time. The 31-year old from Dublin, Ireland is the UFC’s top superstar and has not seen action in over one year. McGregor held a press conference last October and announced that he is targeting three UFC fights in 2020 and that the first of those bouts will be next month at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Last November 28, 2019, UFC President Dana White confirmed via ESPN that McGregor’s opponent will be Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone.
History of Odds
McGregor opened as a -225 betting favorite at the online sportsbook BetOnline after the fight was officially announced. Cowboy came back as a +190 underdog. McGregor went as high as a -260 in the next weeks but has settled down as a -210 favorite as of December 7. Cerrone meanwhile, is at +180 as of the latest odds board.
Talks for a McGregor vs Cerrone scrap started as far back as late 2018. Back then, the Irishman was initially pegged as a -185 favorite and Cerrone as a slight +150 underdog.
It took long before the fight was finally made official as McGregor was also rumored to fight at least five other UFC fighters in his return. A betting line was even established for his next opponent.
When McGregor announced in his October press conference in Moscow that he will be returning to the Octagon in 2020, betting odds for his next opponent were released by the top betting sites. Bovada had Cerrone as the frontrunner at +200. Former WSOF lightweight champion Justin Gaethje was next at +375, while Nate Diaz came at +400, and Jorge Masvidal at +600.
A rematch with Khabib was listed at +900 but then Nurmagomedov was later penciled to fight Tony Ferguson at the main event of a UFC pay per view event on April 18, 2020, at the Barclays Center in New York. This marks the fifth time that a bout between Khabib and Ferguson has been booked the UFC. The bout fell apart for various reasons in the first four bookings.
Return of McGregor
McGregor has not fought inside the octagon since losing to Khabib Nurmagomedov art UFC 229 in October 2018. McGregor has not won a fight, be it in MMA or boxing, in three years. His last win came at UFC 204 when he defeated Eddie Alvarez for the UFC lightweight title and become the third two-weight division champion in UFC history.
The Nurmagomedov fight was his only bout of 2018 and his only fight in 2017 was a boxing match against undefeated legend Floyd Mayweather Jr. McGregor lost to Mayweather by 10th round technical knockout but although he was convincingly beaten in his first and only professional boxing match, McGregor had a guaranteed purse of $30M for that bout, his biggest payday ever.
McGregor was also involved in a post-fight brawl following his UFC 229 loss to Khabib. McGregor punched Khabib’s cousin Abubakar Nurmagomedov who entered the octagon during the melee. The Nevada State Athletic Commission suspended McGregor for six months for his participation in the brawl and he became eligible to compete again in April 2019. Then the search was on.
A rematch with Khabib became a remote possibility after Ferguson stopped Cerrone at UFC 238 last June for his 12th consecutive win. Nate Diaz and Jorge Masvidal were then booked to fight for the BMF title at UFC 244 last month, leaving Cerrone and Gaethje as the most probable opponents for the Irishman. But while Gaethje has been calling out McGregor, perhaps the Notorious felt that Gaethje is a more dangerous opponent and Cerrone is a bigger draw.
I know A Guy
Donald Cerrone is one of the most popular fighters in the history of the UFC, period. Known as Cowboy, Cerrone used to be one of the most active fighters in the promotion, fighting at least four times per year from 2013 to 2016. He is best known for the line “I know a guy” because he’s stepped in so many times on short notice to save a fight when a fighter pulled out.
Cowboy is one of the most decorated fighters in the history of the promotion. In 2018, he surpassed Georges St. Pierre and Michael Bisping as the winningest fighter in the history of the UFC with 21 wins. He also topped Anderson Silva and Vitor Belfort for most finishes at 16. Cerrone also recently broke the record for most fights ever with the UFC (33) and most post-fight bonuses earned at 16.
However, Cerrone has lost his last two bouts.
- His UFC 238 bout against Tony Ferguson was a war but the doctor stopped the fight after Cerrone’s eyes were badly swollen at the end of round two.
- And his most recent scrap against Justin Gaethje ended in a first-round TKO in favor of the Highlight.
Cerrone is 4-6 with four knockout losses since 2017 and this is the reason why Cowboy is the betting underdog in this bout.
Donald Cerrone is 36 years old already and his best years are definitely behind him now. After winning eight consecutive fights from 2013-2015, he earned a lightweight title shot against Rafael Dos Anjos at UFC on Fox 17. He lost by first-round TKO and then moved up to welterweight, won four straight bouts by stoppage before losing to Jorge Masvidal in 2017. Cerrone returned to lightweight after 2-3 since the Masvidal loss.
Conor McGregor is most famous for his left hand which knocked out longtime champion Jose Aldo in 12 seconds. That left hand also put Nate Diaz on the canvass several times during their rematch and it was also that left-hand punch that put Eddie Alvarez to sleep in New York. There is no question that McGregor’s left hand is his best weapon and it’s going to be his main asset against Cerrone who has been knocked out several times in his career.
McGregor will prefer to fight on his feet. The Irishman is one of the best technical strikers in the sport. It’s not just the power, it’s also his timing and precision. As he famously said, precision beats power, timing beats speed. The Notorious has 21-4 and 18 of those victories have come via knockout. He studies a lot of films to locate his opponent’s weaknesses and then sets traps during the bout to capitalize on their bad habits. On the other hand, his main weakness is his cardio. We saw McGregor gas against Nate Diaz in the first fight although that bout was at welterweight.
As for Cerrone, Cowboy is also a very intelligent striker who also possesses knockout power. He has lightning-quick punch combinations of up to six punches. But not only is Cowboy a terrific technical striker, but he is also a very skilled submission artist and creative on the ground. Cerrone is 36-13 with 10 knockouts and 17 wins by submission.
Cerrone enjoys a four-inch height advantage over McGregor but the Irishman has a once inch advantage in reach. That edge in length may be all that McGregor needs to win this fight and keep Cerrone at a distance. McGregor cannot afford to let Cerrone get close because the latter is going to take him down. If McGregor can stay at a distance, he can set up his traps and land that devastating left-hand punch. However, the field is leveled because this fight is set at welterweight, where Cowboy has the edge as the naturally bigger man.
Early Betting Prediction:
Every fight starts on the feet and Cerrone has suffered several first-round knockout losses, including his last fight. I’m picking Conor McGregor to win by knockout.