Conor McGregor returns to the octagon at UFC 246 in Las Vegas. He’s not fought since his loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov in late 2018, but Conor and his team insist he’s ready for a big 2019. That all starts at UFC 246 with his fight with Donald Cerrone.
The McGregor vs Cerrone fight is really the only big fight on the card, with the UFC banking on the fact that the return of Conor will be enough to sell this card. I think that’s a safe bet.
I have 3 picks for the card below. I’m using the best odds available from any of our top rated betting sites for the picks.
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Conor McGregor vs Donald Cerrone
McGregor is back and I disagree with the narrative that this is an easy fight meant to set up a rematch with Khabib. It may very well be meant to set up the Khabib fight, but Cerrone is by no means an easy fight. Yes, Cowboy has lost two in a row, but those losses were to elite lightweight fighters Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje. Let’s not forget that Conor McGregor only has one lightweight win in his UFC career, and it came over Eddie Alvarez who is not in the same category as those fights, and is also a guy that Cowboy defeated himself.
All of that said, I do think the odds for this fight are accurate. I give Conor the edge, but if Cowboy won it would not surprise me. Conor needs to find a home for his left hand early on in the fight, and he has the tools to set it up and land clean to put Cerrone’s lights out. On the flip side, Cowboy is an elite fighter with the most experience on the UFC roster and you can be sure he will have a solid game plan ready for McGregor.
I’m not going to go into a lot of analysis on this fight. I think the odds are accurate, but I’m taking McGregor as my play. I hope Conor comes out looking like the guy from 2016. A win here would set up a fun year with McGregor back as the poster boy for the UFC.
Play: McGregor 1.32 @ SportsInteraction.com
Alexa Grasso vs Claudia Gadelha
I am surprised to see this fight as a pick’em. Gadelha opened as a much bigger favourite with odds around 1.67, but bets coming in on Grasso in late December have pushed this fight to basically a pick’em.
That said, I still like Gadelha to get this win. Claudia was considered the #2 strawweight in the division, next to Joanna Jedrzejczyk for years, before a loss to Jessica Andrade (where Gadelha was a -275 favorite) changed the dyanmic of the division. Andrade was simply too physical for Gadelha, who has an issue with gassing out. Gadelha was able to squeak out a split decision win over Esparza in her next fight, but it was not an impressive performance. After that Nina Ansaroff used the same game plan Andrade did, by just applying a ton of pressure on Gadelha en route to the upset (Gadelha was a 3 to 1 favourite in that fight).
Gadelha has since bounced back with a decisive, albeit not super impressive, victory over Randa Markos back in July. I wouldn’t say Gadelha is “back” per-say, but I do think she’s adjusted her style to account for a lack of stamina that shows through in fights where her opponents are able to keep up a high pace.
Grasso does have the ability to put a high pace, but her lack of takedown defense should allow Gadelha to get this fight to the mat when needed to control position, regain energy, and also win rounds on the mat. Grasso was taken down 4 times in her recent split decision loss to Carla Esparza, and she’s been taken down 13 times across her 6 UFC fights.
I see a clear path to victory for Claudia Gadelha in this fight. She is by far the better grappler, and although she may get out-struck on the feet, I still think she will be able to get Grasso to the mat when needed, en route to a unanimous decision win.
Play: Gadelha 1.87 @ SportsInteraction.com
Aleksa Camur vs Justin Ledet
Justin Ledet came into the UFC and won three straight fights, quickly becoming a fighter to watch in the light heavyweight division. He has since lost two fights in a row, but both were against top 10 opponents in Alexander Rakic and Johnny Walker. Ledet was destroyed in both of those fights, but now he faces a UFC newcomer who is relatively inexperienced.
Aleksa Camur won his Contender Series fight back in July and earned a UFC contract. He is only 5-0 in his career and he’s really only faced cans in his entire MMA career. Even his Contender Series fight was against a 4-0 fighter who had earned that 4-0 record by beating 4 guys with a combined 2 wins. His opponents leave a lot to be desired. That said, Camur has done exactly what he’s supposed to with these opponents, by finishing all 5 of his wins early.
I will take Ledet as the slight underdog. I think he’s an average UFC fighter, and that is a huge step up in competition for Camur. If Ledet can use his experience and avoid an early knockout he may be able to cruise to a decision win.
Play: Ledet 2.05 @ SportsInteraction.com