A UFC legend is finally coming back to the octagon this Saturday: At UFC 246, MMA fans will see “The Notorious” Conor McGregor returning to the fight against Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone in Las Vegas, with these two seasoned veterans duking it out as the main event. The UFC 246 main card is a pay-per-view event that will air exclusively on ESPN+; if you haven’t signed up yet, then now’s the time to do so, then read on below to see our own picks and predictions for the highly anticipated main fights of UFC 246: McGregor vs. Cerrone.
Conor McGregor vs. Donald Cerrone
McGregor is a brawler at heart with a relentless strike-heavy fighting style, and it’s notable that all of his only four defeats have come by submission (including his most recent loss at the hands of Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229 more than a year ago, which was also the last time McGregor fought in the octagon). Cerrone, for his part, has won plenty of victories via submission, even if most of his recent wins have been by knockout or decision, which would seem at first glance to give him an important advantage heading into UFC 246.
McGregor is still the strong favorite to win here, however, but Cerrone is a seasoned kickboxer and one who is definitely capable of giving McGregor some serious trouble — especially if things go to the ground. Whether or not Cerrone can pull off a victory at UFC 246 will probably come down to whether or not he can grapple with McGregor, take down to the mat, and keep him there long enough for him to put his superior ground game to work. This becomes more likely the longer the fight drags on, giving Cerrone a good chance of victory if he can withstand McGregor’s blitz in the early rounds.
That, of course, will not be as easy as it sounds. McGregor is an extremely skilled and aggressive hitter and Cerrone doesn’t have the extreme defensive capabilities needed to avoid taking some heavy – and potentially devastating – blows. Cerrone will almost certainly try to take things to the ground, but McGregor will certainly be expecting this, and the Irish brawler is fast and wily enough to prevent this from happening. We predict that McGregor’s relentless all-in boxing style will ultimately see him taking this fight via knockout.
Holly Holm vs. Raquel Pennington
The second headlining event on the main card is a women’s bantamweight match between former champion Holly Holm and challenger Raquel Pennington. These two fighters met before at UFC 184 in February 2015 with Holm winning a close victory via split decision. Holm, now 38, is one of the UFC’s most celebrated female combatants and is the favorite to win over 31-year-old Pennington.
Holm is a fast and fluid kickboxer who is well-known for her excellent footwork. A majority of her 12 professional MMA victories have been won via knockout, her 12-5 record standing in stark contrast to Pennington’s 10-7 record (which boasts only one KO). Holm also has a long career in boxing and kickboxing with dozens of victories under her belt throughout various promotions other than the UFC.
Pennington, for her part, is no slouch when it comes to striking and is arguably the superior grappler. Nonetheless, Holm’s defense against takedowns has only improved since their last faceoff, and we expect that the former champ will be able to keep this fight on her feet and off the ground — meaning that she’ll ultimately claim the victory, although this rematch will likely prove too close for her to land a crushing knockout blow. We’re predicting a win for Holm via decision.
UFC 246: McGregor vs. Cerrone is a pay-per-view event, and given the fighting promotion’s close relationship with ESPN, it’ll be airing live exclusively on the ESPN+ streaming service. If you haven’t signed up yet, now’s a fine time, aslets you nab a year’s worth of ESPN+ plus the UFC 246 PPV package for $85, saving you more than 25% off the regular purchase price.
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