The Main Event: “The Notorious” Conor McGregor (21-4) vs. Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone (36-13-1)
While it may not feel like it did back in 2016, it is indeed a Conor McGregor fight week. UFC 246 will feature McGregor’s first trip to the Octagon since his loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov back at UFC 229 in 2018.
There is little doubt that this Saturday’s UFC 246 will do huge numbers. McGregor is surely still one of the biggest draws in the sport, but long layoffs, criminal assaults, defeats, and sexual abuse allegations have put a damper on the man who lit the world afire at one time.
The Irishman returns against the warhorse that is Donald Cerrone. Cerrone, for all of his grit, is currently riding a two-fight losing streak and has gone 4-6 in the last three years. But “Cowboy” is also a veteran of 50 mixed martial arts bouts and has faced many top combatants across two weight classes.
McGregor heads into his return as a -320 favorite to win. Cerrone has proven to be hittable throughout his career and a sniper with the power of McGregor appears to be a nightmare matchup for him on paper.
The X-factor in this one is that the bout is taking place at 170-pounds. This is a weight class where Cerrone has a lot of experience while McGregor has only fought at that weight in his two contests with Nate Diaz. Recent social media posts have shown a jacked-up McGregor that is putting on muscle for the new division. It’ll be interesting to see if the bulk takes away from McGregor’s precision, speed, and cardio.
Should Cerrone be able to survive the early onslaught and drag the fight into the later rounds, the odds will surely start to shift in his favor. He has proven more than once he can go five rounds, while McGregor has slowed as his fights have gone on.
The Co-Main Event: “The Preacher’s Daughter” Holly Holm (12-5) vs. Raquel “Rocky” Pennington (10-7)
Our co-main event of the evening is a women’s bantamweight rematch between former champion Holly Holm and recent title challenger Raquel Pennington.
The pair first met in 2015 at UFC 184 when Holm picked up a split-decision win in a very close bout in her promotional debut.
Holm is most famous for her knockout of Ronda Rousey to win the title but since that paramount victory, the former kickboxer has gone 2-5 in her last seven. In Holm’s last outing, she was on the receiving end of knockout via head kick from the current champion, Amanda Nunes.
Pennington is 1-3 in her last three and was the victim of a brutal thrashing at the hands of Nunes herself in 2018.
Put more simply, this fight doesn’t mean much in the division. Neither woman is likely to be seen as a contender any time in the near future. Holm is possibly the fighter to have the most fanfare off of a single win in the history of the sport. The promotion feels she is still a draw despite her abysmal record and continues to use her name to prop up lackluster cards.
Chances are this one drags to a decision.
Fight of the Night: Drew Dober (21-9-1) vs. Nasrat Haqparast (11-2)
Tristar Gym prospect Nasrat Haqparast is on a three-fight win streak with his last win being a vicious knockout of Joaquim Silva back in August. The finish wasn’t a surprise since Haqparast has won nine of his 11 fights via knockout or TKO. The German fighter has proven to be a technical striker with the power to put people in the dirt.
Drew Dober has gone 4-1 in his last five. During that streak, Dober had an absolute banger with Frank Camacho and finished Josh Burkman and Marco Polo Reyes in impressive fashion. While Dober may not have the technical prowess of his opponent, he possesses toughness, bombs on the inside, and a willingness to engage that should make this one a lot of fun for fans for as long as it lasts.
Upset to Watch For: Andre Fili (20-6) defeating Sodiq Yusuff (10-1)
Andre Fili could arguably be on a five-fight win streak had he not lost a somewhat controversial fight to Michael Johnson. The 29-year-old Fili seems to be coming into his fighting prime and has shown a more well-rounded game in the last couple of years.
Sodiq Yusuff is no pushover, but should Fili be able to avoid the Nigerian’s boxing and mix in his takedowns, there’s a good chance we see an upset here.
The full lineup for this Saturday night’s UFC 246 card can be seen below.
UFC 246 Main Card (10:00 PM EST / 7:00 PM PST on ESPN+)
- Welterweight – 170lbs: Conor McGregor vs. Donald Cerrone
- Bantamweight – 135lbs: Holly Holm vs. Raquel Pennington
- Heavyweight – 207-265lbs: Aleksei Oleinik vs. Maurice Greene
- Strawweight – 155lbs: Cláudia Gadelha vs. Alexa Grasso
- Lightweight – 155lbs: Anthony Pettis vs. Carlos Diego Ferreira
Preliminary Card (8:00 PM EST / 5:00 PM PST on ESPN)
- Flyweight – 125lbs: Roxanne Modafferi vs. Maycee Barber
- Featherweight – 145lbs: Andre Fili vs. Sodiq Yusuff
- Lightweight: Drew Dober vs. Nasrat Haqparast
- Featherweight: Chas Skelly vs. Grant Dawson
Early Prelims (6:15 PM EST / 3:15 PM PST on UFC Fight Pass)
- Light heavyweight – 205lbs: Aleksa Camur vs. Justin Ledet
- Flyweight: Tim Elliott vs. Askar Askarov
- Bantamweight: Brian Kelleher vs. Ode Osbourne
- Flyweight: Sabina Mazo vs. JJ Aldrich