Conor McGregor v Donald 'Cowboy' Cerrone Betting Preview

Conor McGregor v Donald 'Cowboy' Cerrone Betting Preview

Cerrone and McGregor are the main event at UFC 246 (Credit: USA Today)

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UFC 246 will see the return of the organisations' premier cash cow as Conor McGregor returns to the Octagon to go head-to-head with Donald Cerrone at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. As with all of the Irishman’s bouts it’s marked down as the night’s main event despite there being no belts on the line. Despite this, there are plenty of intriguing MMA betting options available with all of the top bookmakers.

There certainly is a different feel in the build-up to this match-up. McGregor’s usual persona of a loud-mouth wind-up merchant has been replaced with a rather different, if not refreshing, persona.

‘The Notorious’ - who has been caught up in a number of high profile controversies in recent months - claims to have turned a corner and while he hasn’t promised to give up his antics of old, he’s certainly toned them down.

Instead of launching a series scathing personal attacks like he has with the majority of his previous opponents, McGregor has gone as far as to admit his admiration for “family man” Cerrone.

The media circus still centres around the 31-year-old, but his usual mental mind-tricks have been kept to a minimum, as far as Cerrone is concerned anyway.

Many have pegged the fight as an easy lay-up for McGregor’s return to the UFC, and bookies certainly agree with that sentiment. A victory for the whiskey connoisseur is pegged at 1/3 generally.

Cerrone Is No Easy Match Up

However, Cerrone is a veteran inside the cage and offers a potentially difficult fight for McGregor. Cowboy has fought five times since McGregor was beaten up by Khabib Nurmagomedov in October 2018 - so ring rust won’t be an issue for the Colorada man.

At 36-years-old it could be argued he’s past his prime, and coming off the back of two losses to Justin Garthje and Tony Ferguson - both of whom have been mooted for potential McGregor scraps - it could be seen as a final payday for an experienced campaigner who the UFC hold in particularly high regard, especially against an opponent who is expected to pull in lucrative numbers.

"Cowboy Cerrone is one of the best ever. He holds a tonne of records in this sport and loves to be the underdog. A lot of people wrote Cowboy off and that Conor was coming back and getting a lay-up. This isn’t a lay-up at all,” said UFC President Dana White in a recent interview.

He has 36 wins in total throughout his career with 47% of those by submission, meaning he poses a threat that McGregor has often struggled with. All four of McGregor’s MMA losses have come via submission, with his sole TKO defeat coming famously at the hands of 51-0 boxer Floyd Mayweather - although that bout took place under the rules of the sweet science.

Cowboy is the physically bigger man too. Standing at 6’0 he will tower over the 5’9 McGregor, although the Irishman will have a one-inch reach advantage. With this fight taking place at Welterweight (170 pounds), Cerrone will not have to take much of a weight cut into consideration - but it's a dilemma McGregor will not have to contend with either.

It should be taken into account, however, that McGregor admitted he is underweight ahead of Saturday night, tipping the scales at a little over 160lbs. Any extra weight advantage Cerrone can take into the fight will be crucial, especially if he decides to take it to the ground.

McGregor hasn’t had much luck in the 170 division. He was defeated by Nate Diaz at UFC 196 via a second-round rear naked choke before exacting his revenge in the rematch, a five-round war at UFC 201. It’s often debated that McGregor's ideal weight is 155, and White has expressed concern over his insistence on fighting at welterweight.

With this in mind, Cerrone seems like the value play to win the fight at 5/2 with BetVictor. For punters who want a bit more value, Cowboy is somewhat of a second-round specialist with 14 finishes there in his career but the early rounds are where McGregor tends to be his most dangerous.

The Notorious has a tendancy to tire as the fight goes on, however, so betting on a Cerrone win in round 3-4 at 15/2 with 888Sport could prove fruitful.

Can Mac Come Back?

McGregor has been bullish about his most recent comeback, emphasising that he is preparing for at least three brawls in 2020, with the end goal being a rematch with Khabib in Moscow.

You can’t question his pedigree. Before his brief retirement, McGregor dominated the featherweight division before dismantling Eddie Alvarez to seal the lightweight title in one of the most impressive performances ever seen in the Octagon, on MMA’s return to Madison Square Garden, where he first dubbed himself the ‘Champ Champ’.

There were signs of life during some periods of the fight with Khabib, but he was ultimately outclassed by arguably the pound-for-pound best fighter on the planet following a two-year absence and reported foot injury. That loss, perhaps, can be excused.

Should he be back to his old self, you would fancy him to execute an early knockout. At 1/3 outright winner with most bookmakers, the best value for McGregor backers lies in round betting. He is 2/1 with Ladbrokes to stop Cerrone in the first, with the second round valued at 9/2 with Betway. I wouldn't talk anyone out of either option.

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