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UFC 246 Pick to Win

MMA Fight: UFC 246: McGregor vs. Cerrone
Key Matches: Conor McGregor vs. Donald Cerrone
When: Saturday, January 18, 2020
Time: 11PM EST
Where: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada
TV: PPV

by Loot, MMA Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Conor McGregor, (-235), 21-4 (18 KOs, 1 Submission) vs. Donald Cerrone, (+195), 36-13 (10 KOs, 17 Submissions)

Conor McGregor takes on Donald Cerrone in the main event of UFC 246 on January 18. Out of action since late-2018, this is the return of the big money-man in the sport. This welterweight five-round battle is key for both combatants. It's a chance for Cerrone to set himself up for some big fights and would be the biggest win in his long career. For McGregor, he really needs a win after coming up short in some more-recent high-profile appearances. Will we see McGregor reaffirm his status or will Cerrone be too much of a real fighter for a fading superstar?

It's somewhat interesting this fight is in the welterweight division. Cerrone has been fighting at 155 pounds of late, while Conor is pretty small for 170 pounds and only 1-1 in the division with him splitting two fights with Nate Diaz. I don't think Conor has a size advantage, with Cerrone having split his time between lightweight and welterweight. And while this fight is at 170, it's not like McGregor is in there with some hulking welterweight. I wouldn't read too much into the weight.

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On one hand, Conor losing to an unbeaten champion and doing better than a lot of people thought in a boxing match with Floyd Mayweather doesn't paint him in a bad light. Those are understandable defeats. At the end of the day, however, he hasn't seen victory since 2016 and this is 2020. This business can pass people by in that time. He had a great run, with those wins over Aldo and Alvarez being memorable wins that will cement him in the annals of the sport. But in splitting two fights with Nate Diaz, who isn't a champion, and then losing to Mayweather and then Khabib, his prime was more lucrative than it was actually impressive.

It seems to me that Conor's star as a celebrity shines brighter than his star as a fighter. Those mega paydays, particularly the Mayweather check, made it so he was set for life and it's hard to keep your edge when waking up on silk sheets and living the good life. The young phenom who was setting the sport on fire is now 31. The champion in his chosen division completely dominated him, making a rematch a bit out-of-reach at the moment.

This must be identified as the line in the sand for McGregor. As of now, McGregor is still big enough to headline a PPV event. His rep still carries that much clout. A loss to Cerrone would bury him. A win, and certainly an impressive one, would put him right back in the headlines, as any number of fights could be for the taking. He would have options. For several years, he has been able to maintain the superstar persona without the requisite success, but you couldn't justify it anymore unless he comes out of top in this one.

The 36-year old Cerrone is the quintessential tough guy, a fight veteran who has seen his share of ups and downs. Just when you think he's finished, he comes back. You can never count him out. For about a dozen years, he has been taking on the best from lightweight to welterweight. His last two fights, against monsters Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje, didn't go his way with a pair of stoppage losses. It stopped a nice run he was on that culminated in a nice win over Al Iaquinta. So maybe McGregor is catching him at the right time. Then again, counting Cerrone out has come at a high cost before.

Very dangerous, well-versed, and relaxed, Cerrone won't be overwhelmed by the moment. With ten knockouts and 17 submissions, he has multiple routes to the winner's circle. He can kickbox his tail off and sink in finishing chokes and armbars. It's hard to take recent track record and hold it against him. He's that rare breed of fighter who looks at this as a marathon. He didn't zoom to the top, take some losses, and fade away. "Cowboy" maintains a high level, wins some, loses some, and just keeps carrying on. It's not like most fighters where it's easier to peg their career trajectory. With Cerrone, you just know you're getting a dangerous veteran—a guy where fighting is done with complete naturalness and calm.

The stakes might be higher for Conor. Cerrone can keep being Cerrone if he loses. He'll have a big payday and can keep doing his thing. McGregor, though, would be hard to justify as the A-side of a PPV if he lost. His status would sink and somewhat dramatically. That doesn't mean he wants to win more, but I would expect to see a version of McGregor where the urgency has resonated with him. Between the setbacks in the octagon and the ring, along with some unfavorable news in his regular life, I expect McGregor to be extra-eager to get a positive development going in his life story.

I think McGregor matches up decently with Cerrone. A fast starter, he might catch Cerrone early, as Cowboy usually needs some time to warm up. It's a five-rounder, so he can make up for it, but it's still something that could help McGregor get off to a fast start. And with two straight stoppage losses and four since 2017, maybe McGregor is catching Cerrone at the right time. I see McGregor coming out ahead in this one.

Loot's Pick to Win the Match: I'm betting on Conor McGregor at -235 betting odds. Bet this fight for FREE by taking advantage of a massive 100% sign-up bonus on your first deposit of $100 to $500 at GTBets!

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