Conor “Notorious” McGregor will be headlining UFC 246 on January 18th at T-Mobile Arena in Paradise, Nevada as one of the most anticipated returns to the cage in UFC history. This is following his ban and fine after the disgraceful events of his most recent fight and defeat at the hands of Khabib Nurmagomedov, who has already made his own successful return to the Octagon.

McGregor will start favourite on the UFC 246 bitcoin betting odds at Cloudbet facing Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone, a certified legend in his own right. Cerrone is five years older with far more experience than his opponent, counting 15 more victories, but also having suffered nine more losses in his career.

McGregor stands two inches shorter but holds the 1-inch greater reach, which may prove an advantage considering his striking style.

Will McGregor's Superior Reach Prove Critical?

McGregor stands two inches shorter but holds the 1-inch greater reach, which may prove an advantage considering his striking style. He also held titles in two weight divisions, Featherweight and Lightweight. To face Cerrone he must go up a weight class once again to Welterweight as he did against Nate Diaz, something that we’ve often seen can put a fighter at a physical disadvantage. Only the cage, of course, can decide the truth of that.

McGregor was on top of the world, a real rising star who was exciting in the cage and controversial outside of it, with his Irish roots sparking the interest of a new wave of British and Irish fandom. Despite two losses early on in his career, he quickly became known for his strikes as knockout after knockout ensued. Of his 21 wins, 18 have been knockouts, one was via submission and only two via decision. His strikes are incredibly fast and dynamic, from fluid boxing technique to spinning heel kicks. He uses his reach explosively, timing his strikes with great accuracy while avoiding any counters from his opponents with his fluid head movement.

His reactions are incredible and it’s not surprising that he has a classical boxing background. His consistently relaxed demeanour and unconventional southpaw stance is also incredibly off-putting for his opponents. That timing and use of reach is demonstrated well in his Featherweight title bout against Jose Aldo, which ended in its opening moments with one knockout punch from McGregor.

He was on a 15-fight winning streak before his fateful loss to Nate Diaz by submission, a considerable gap in his skillset, which is interesting considering his upcoming opponent Cerrone’s own strong submission game. It seemed he’d finally been knocked off his high pedestal. Then came the anticipated rematch, where McGregor’s decision victory against Diaz lead him to rise once again. His match and 2nd round knockout of Eddie Alvarez sealed his second weight division championship at Lightweight. He took a break from MMA, pursuing a fanciful boxing match up with Floyd Mayweather which he lost but which grew his fame and notoriety.

Putting Nurmagomedov Behind Him

Everything came to a catastrophic halt in his match and loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov. Instead of marking his great come back, the bout was surrounded by controversy and shame. McGregor was always found to be a great entertainer, partly due to his charismatic persona, arrogant pre-match statements and trash-talk that was usually backed up by solid, dramatic victories.

In this case however, many agree he took it too far, losing a great amount of respect in the MMA community with his racist and Islamophobic statements as well as personal, verbal attacks referencing Nurmagomedov’s family and background leading up to the bout. He couldn’t back up his big words this time, didn’t have the stamina or expanded skillset to keep up with and defeat the famed wrestler from Dagestan. He was worn down and tactically caught in a vicious and well-executed neck crank.

It didn’t stop there however, what ensued afterwards between McGregor’s team and Nurmagomedov’s could only be described as a mass brawl. As McGregor didn’t instigate, he faced lighter penalties than his opponent but he was still fined $50,000 and suspended for 6 months. He made a formal apology and retains a loyal fanbase despite his damaged reputation. A year and a half later he returns to redeem himself.

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Could this be the Cowboy's last rodeo?

What he faces is no light challenge. The legendary Cowboy Cerrone arguably has a much more balanced skillset than his opponent. Cerrone’s strikes are not to be underestimated. Though not as steep as his opponent’s, he still holds a strong record of 10 knockout victories, with nine victories via decision but an overwhelming 17 via submission. Cerrone doesn’t rely on one discipline as his opponent appears to, but his specialism is clearly grappling and submissions, a proven gap in McGregor’s game.

Like for many fighters, combat proved a positive outlet for Cerrone who grew up with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), often getting into fights. Interestingly enough, when he began combat training, his background was not in wrestling or Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ), but Muay Thai and Kickboxing. It’s clear that in entering MMA he greatly broadened and developed his Martial Arts knowledge. In beginning his career, he trained with such big names as Jon Jones, Rashad Evans and Georges St-Pierre, which clearly influenced him. He now unsurprisingly holds a blackbelt in BJJ under Eliot Marshall.

He certainly has favoured submission techniques, he’s an absolute surgeon with the choke, specifically the Triangle and Rear-Naked Chokes. Two techniques he has perfected.

Cerrone’s style is persistent and dominating. He pursues his opponents relentlessly with his strikes and once his submissions are set up, he never relieves pressure, leaving no room for retaliation. As far as knockouts he is famed for his head kick, a risky move that requires great technicality, flexibility and timing, as seen in his relatively recent knockout of Alexander Hernandez via head kick and punches. He certainly has favoured submission techniques, he’s an absolute surgeon with the choke, specifically the Triangle and Rear-Naked Chokes. Two techniques he has perfected.

Cerrone has maintained long winning streaks, though nothing that reached the interrupted length of McGregor’s. Since December 2016, going into the latter part of his career, Cerrone’s once consistent record has faced far more losses. After his recent 3-fight winning streak when he was on the rise again, this year he suffered two losses, both via knockout. There’s a lot riding on this fight and Cerrone will be well aware of what it will mean for the winner.

Despite doubts this is McGregor's to lose

Two warriors face off with very different skillsets and styles of fighting. It could be argued that McGregor’s time out of the cage, move up a weight class and narrower skillset may put him at a disadvantage against Cerrone. However, McGregor is a younger fighter with an arguably stronger recent record who will also have had considerable time to refine his game, whereas Cerrone appears to be on the decline, suffering two knockouts this year.

On this basis it is likely that McGregor will make his come back and gain the victory with the odds at Cloudbet reflecting this, consistently moving towards Notorious since they opened at 1.42.

Current odds: Conor McGregor 1.27 - Donald Cerrone 3.64

Jan 5, 2020

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