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The UFC is set to kick off 2020 in a big way as it returns to the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas for UFC 246. Headlining this card are two fan favorites, with Conor “Notorious” McGregor making his return to take on Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone in the welterweight division. Despite a 15-month layoff for McGregor, the Ireland native is a -310 favorite with Cerrone coming back at +240. I have a preview and pick for each fight on the UFC 246 main card.

For more UFC fight analysis, check out my how to bet on McGregor vs Cerrone article.

UFC 246: McGregor vs Cerrone
  • Date/Time: January 18, 5:30 p.m. ET
  • Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Arena: T-Mobile Arena
  • Where to Watch: PPV, ESPN+

Conor McGregor vs Donald Cerrone

This is the first time we will be seeing McGregor (-310), the former “champ champ,” since his fourth-round submission loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229 in October 2018. Looking to welcome Notorious back to the Octagon with a closed fist is UFC veteran Cowboy Cerrone (+240), who hopes to put an end to his two-fight losing skid. These two exchanged words at a press conference in 2015 and have jabbed at each other through social media over the years.

Not only is McGregor perhaps facing some ring rust, having not competed since October 2018, but he also hasn’t earned a UFC victory since beating Eddie Alvarez for the lightweight belt in November 2016. Notorious has tremendous pinpoint accuracy in his strikes and he throws them effortlessly with great power and speed. His wrestling will always be questioned and his cardio has been his downfall in the past as well.

As for Cowboy, he is a game fighter, backing down from nobody, and he has a well-rounded skill set. Cerrone has great kicks and accurate punches as well, and on the floor he has fantastic submission skills but doesn’t usually bring fights to the canvas because he’d rather brawl. The big issue for Cowboy is absorbing body shots and crumbling on the big stage, which he has done in the past.

For more on this fight, check out my odds analysis article.

Also, for more reasoning on how each fighter will win this fight, I have broken down the three reasons why Cerrone will win, while Iain MacMillan has provided his three reasons why McGregor will win.

Prediction: Donald Cerrone (+255) via decision

Conor McGregor vs Donald Cerrone Betting Odds
Fighter Odds
Conor McGregor -310
Donald Cerrone +240

Odds as of January 18 at Bovada

Holly Holm vs Raquel Pennington

Holm (-140), the former women’s bantamweight champion, is back in action for the first time since her first-round knockout loss to Amanda Nunes in July. Aiming to pile a second straight loss on “the Preacher’s Daughter” is “Rocky” Pennington (+110), who is coming off her first triumph in almost three years, earning a split-decision win over Irene Aldana in July. This is a rematch nearly five years in the making after Holm scored a split-decision victory over Pennington at UFC 184 in February 2015.

Holm is a strong striker with really fast hands and she capitalizes by countering accurately when her opponents overextend on their strikes. Her foes tend to reach to hit her because of her fantastic footwork and speed that allows her to get out of danger quickly and efficiently. Pennington had a four-fight winning streak from 2015 into 2016 that led to a title shot with Nunes, but she lost via fifth-round knockout and then lost by decision to Germaine de Randamie five months later. Rocky is very tough and absorbs damage very well, often returning with a heavy strike of her own. She can sometimes be caught watching her opponents instead of engaging first, which has resulted in her being outstruck in each of her last three fights.

Prediction: Holly Holm (-140) via decision

Holly Holm vs Raquel Pennington Betting Odds
Fighter Odds
Holly Holm -140
Raquel Pennington +110

Odds as of January 18 at Bovada

Aleksei Oleinik vs Maurice Greene

Aleksei “The Boa Constrictor” Oleinik (-105) is riding his first losing streak in nearly eight years as he enters this bout on a two-fight losing streak. Meanwhile, Maurice “The Crochet Boss” Greene (-125) is looking to avoid the first losing skid of his career, after suffering a first-round knockout loss to Sergei Pavlovich last October.

A veteran of the sport, Oleinik is making his 62nd walk to the cage, carrying with him a record of 57-13-1 with 45 of those victories coming by submission. You don’t get the nickname “Boa Constrictor” for no reason, as the Russia native has elite submission skills and ridiculous grip strength, which is on full display when he locks in his signature Ezekiel choke on his foes. Getting close to Greene poses a true danger as the Crochet Boss has exceptional boxing skills and possesses a powerful overhand right. Additionally, Greene doesn’t have many worries getting taken down as three of his four submission wins have been by triangle choke.

Prediction: Maurice Greene (-125) via knockout

Aleksei Oleinik vs Maurice Greene Betting Odds
Fighter Odds
Aleksei Oleinik -105
Maurice Greene -125

Odds as of January 18 at Bovada

Claudia Gadelha vs Alexa Grasso

*This fight has been canceled after Alexa Grasso failed to make weight and the Nevada State Athletic Commission wouldn't allow the fight to go on*

A pair of fighters on win-one, lose-one streaks recently look to find some stability and climb the strawweight rankings. Alexa Grasso (-105) had a perfect 8-0 record before signing a contract with the UFC but she is 3-3 in the Octagon coming off a majority-decision loss to Carla Esparza last September. As for Gadelha (-125), she fought Joanna Jedrzejczyk for the strawweight belt in 2016, a bout she lost by unanimous decision, and she is 4-2 since then, most recently scoring a unanimous-decision win over Randa Markos last July.  

Gadelha does a good job closing the distance on her opponents, backing them toward the cage with her aggressive footwork. Often, though, she just stands on the outside of her opponents’ range waiting for them to throw a strike that she can counter off, but when she goes first, she often lands on her foes. If the standup game isn’t working for her, she does average 3.34 takedowns per 15 minutes. That could be an area to exploit against Grasso, who only stuffs 63 percent of takedown attempts and has been taken down multiple times in four of her six UFC fights. Her striking is similar to Gadelha’s as she watches rather than attacks looking to counter, but overall, I think the grappling will determine this fight.

Prediction: Claudia Gadelha (-125) via decision

Claudia Gadelha vs Alexa Grasso Betting Odds
Fighter Odds
Claudia Gadelha -125
Alexa Grasso -105

Odds as of January 17 at Bovada

Anthony Pettis vs Diego Ferreira

Anthony “Showtime” Pettis (+180) is returning to the lightweight division after a brief two-fight stint at welterweight where he went 1-1. He faces a tough battle in Diego Ferreira (-230), who has rebounded with a five-fight winning streak since a two-fight skid in 2014 into 2015. Showtime is looking for some consistency, currently on a win-one, lose-one streak over his last eight fights and coming off a loss to Nate Diaz in August.

Pettis is a dynamic striker with unorthodox punches and kicks coming from awkward angles and he will even propel himself off the cage in his coined “showtime kick.” The Milwaukee native also has a somewhat underrated submission game with seven wins coming in that manner. One of the biggest drawbacks for Showtime is his striking defense as he absorbs nearly half a significant strike more per minute than he dishes out. Ferreira is a bully in the Octagon, constantly backing his opponent against the cage looking for opportunities to let his hands fly. In the pocket, he does a good job landing without absorbing much damage, averaging 5.19 significant strikes per minute while only absorbing 3.10.

Prediction: Diego Ferreira (-230) via decision

Diego Ferreira vs Anthony Pettis Betting Odds
Fighter Odds
Diego Ferreira -230
Anthony Pettis +180

Odds as of January 18 at Bovada

Here’s a look at the rest of the odds for UFC 246: McGregor vs Cerrone:

Maycee Barber vs Roxanne Modafferi Betting Odds
Fighter Odds
Maycee Barber -900
Roxanne Modafferi +550

Odds as of January 18 at Bovada

Nasrat Haqparast vs Drew Dober Betting Odds
Fighter Odds
Nasrat Haqparst -340
Drew Dober +260

Odds as of January 18 at Bovada

Sabina Mazo vs J.J. Aldrich Betting Odds
Fighter Odds
Sabina Mazo -110
J.J. Aldrich -120

Odds as of January 18 at Bovada

Andre Fili vs Sodiq Yusuff Betting Odds
Fighter Odds
Andre Fili +115
Sodiq Yusuff -145

Odds as of January 18 at Bovada

Tim Elliott vs Askar Askarov Betting Odds
Fighter Odds
Tim Elliott +120
Askar Askarov -150

Odds as of January 18 at Bovada

Ode Osbourne vs Brian Kelleher Betting Odds
Fighter Odds
Ode Osbourne -150
Brian Kelleher +120

Odds as of January 18 at Bovada

Aleksa Camur vs Justin Ledet Betting Odds
Fighter Odds
Aleksa Camur -125
Justin Ledet -105

Odds as of January 18 at Bovada