Conor McGregor makes his long-awaited return to the Octagon against Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone as the main draw to UFC 246 in Las Vegas.
The Notorious hasn't been seen in the cage since his October 2018 encounter with Khabib Nurmagomedov. A fourth-round submission loss was the culmination of one of his most hyped fights to date. Now, he's back to prove he's still the organization's biggest attraction against a man who's always game for a big fight.
Cerrone enters the bout as the perfect foil to bring McGregor back into the spotlight. He's made a career out of being an action fighter. He's been on the losing end in his last two bouts, but there isn't really such thing as a boring fight involving the 36-year-old.
This is the biggest fight of his career and a great chance at a payday for an aging veteran who has always shown up for the UFC.
The card also features an important women's bantamweight bout between Holly Holm and Raquel Pennington. It's the former's first fight since losing her championship bid to Amanda Nunes in July.
Main Card (ESPN+ PPV at 10 p.m. ET)
- Conor McGregor -330 (bet $330 to win $100) vs. Donald Cerrone +260 ($100 bet wins $260)
- Holly Holm vs. Raquel Pennington
- Aleksei Oleinik vs. Maurice Greene
- Claudia Gadelha vs. Alexa Grasso
- Anthony Pettis vs. Carlos Diego Ferreira
Prelims (ESPN at 8 p.m. ET)
- Maycee Barber vs. Roxanne Modafferi
- Sodiq Yusuff vs. Andre Fili
- Nasrat Haqparast vs. Drew Dober
- Grant Dawson vs. Chas Skelly
Prelims (Fight Pass (6:15 p.m. ET)
- Aleksa Camur vs. Justin Ledet
- Tim Elliott vs. Askar Askarov
- Brian Kelleher vs. Ode Osbourne
- Sabina Mazo vs. JJ Aldrich
Odds via Caesars Sportsbook
McGregor and Cerrone Gearing up for Stand-Up Battle
Conor McGregor and Donald Cerrone are more than just fighters. They've both become a brand.
McGregor is a true wild card. A carnival barker, businessman and thrill ride in the cage. He talks a big game, gets everyone to tune in and usually delivers a memorable performance, win or lose. Most of the time, it involves a memorable striking battle.
That was not the case in his loss to Nurmagomedov in 2018, and he's doing what he can to ensure this fight stays on the feet. He implored Cerrone not to shoot in the most McGregor way possible on his Instagram.
Of course, it's Cowboy's brand to respond in kind. The veteran has painted himself as the perpetual thrill-seeker and that extends throughout his life in and out of the cage. A Doc Holliday, his constant retort seems to be "I'll be your Huckleberry" and this fight is no different.
"You know, I probably should," Cerrone said about potentially taking the Irishman down, per Brett Okamoto of ESPN. "But I don't think I will. I like to fight, too. I like to get in there and throw down. Everyone says his stand-up is amazing, so why not go and test it? Everyone says, 'You wanna just stand there and get knocked out?' But it's my decision. It's my stupidity."
Cerrone is right. McGregor's ground game is a flaw that has been exposed by a variety of opponents to varying degrees of success. Chad Mendes did it in the first round of their fight at featherweight. Nurmagomedov definitely did it at lightweight.
But taking the easiest path to victory isn't Cerrone's style. When he says he's looking to test McGregor's stand-up he's likely telling the truth. This one should live up to the hype with fireworks on the feet.
Prediction: McGregor via second-round TKO
Holm Feels She's Only Gotten Better Since 1st Pennington Fight
Holm and Pennington serve as the co-main event as they run back their 2015 fight that saw Holm narrowly defeat Rocky by split decision.
The loss was the spark for Pennington to go from 5-5 fighter to a serious contender in the division. She ripped off four victories in a row including a decision win over Miesha Tate that has been the highlight of her career thus far.
Holm has transformed as a fighter since then as well. The Pennington clash served as her UFC debut, and the former boxing champion was still splitting her time between training for the two different styles of fighting.
"I honestly feel like I've really improved a lot from the first fight," Holm said, per Farrah Hannoun and Mike Bohn of MMA Junkie. "When I was first, even having my first fight in the UFC, I was very new still to MMA, and you know I'd been doing boxing and MMA back and forth. So whenever I was having an MMA camp, that's when I would train MMA and when I had boxing, I was only training boxing."
After beating Pennington, Holm went on to beat Marion Reneau before her infamous win over Ronda Rousey.
Now she's hoping a win over Pennington will spark another title run.
However, Rocky is also convinced of her own self-improvement, per E. Spencer Kyte of UFC.com:
"Having this opportunity to get back out there and put on a performance I know I'm capable of—the performance that most people have been waiting for me to put on—means the world to me. I feel ready to conquer what's in my future and to grab a hold of what I'm capable of; to go out there this weekend and let loose, be the Raquel that I am every day in the gym."
The first fight between these two was close. This one should be as well, with both fighters angling to stay relevant in the division.
Prediction: Holm via decision