Fighters Only’s UFC 246 preview is brought to you by 5Dimes.
UFC 246 is the first PPV card of the year and it’s a big one for the UFC. Unusually for a numbered Las Vegas event there are no titles on the line, but it does see the return of a certain someone, you may have heard of him before…
As always, I’ll be giving you my picks for the best bets on the card and 5Dimes will be providing the odds.
But before that, make sure you take a look at our free MMA guide, created in partnership with 5Dimes.
Holly Holm vs. Raquel Pennington:
After falling short to Amanda Nunes in the Summer, Holly Holm has opted to stick around at 135lbs to take another run at the championship she snatched from Ronda Rousey in 2015. She lost the belt in her first defence, to Miesha Tate, and lost to Valentina Shevchenko before moving up to 145lbs where she challenged for the inaugural belt with Germaine De Randamie. It was a fight she lost by decision, but one that wasn’t without its controversy as De Randamie looked to gain an advantage with numerous strikes after the bell.
While recent years haven’t been completely kind, she does hold a special place in the UFC hearts and minds and is the only female fighter to have faced every listed champion at both 135 and 145lbs. To cap that, she has also faced the current champion at 125lbs. Its been a murders row of opponents for Holm and her recent record somewhat disguises the level of killers she has been booked against.
Raquel Pennington gets her opportunity for revenge this weekend. The last time these ladies met Holm took a split decision victory, and with it a shot at Rousey. Pennington went on a tear herself and beat the likes of Jessica Andrade and Miesha Tate along the way. It was the win over Tate that secured her shot at Nunes. That fight ended in the 5th, but Pennington nearly took the champion all the way, not many can say that.
While neither fighter provides a convincing argument for the win, I’ll be taking a shot on Pennington. While Holm clearly has the edge in experience, she has also suffered some pretty heavy defeats in the last few years going 2-5 along the way. At the age of 38 those are going to take their toll and even the master game planning by Jackson-Wink isn’t going to be enough to save her. Pennington to win a close but clear decision and book herself into a rematch with Nunes.
Recommendation: Raquel Pennington – 2 units at +115 (23/20) @ 5Dimes
Conor McGregor vs. Donald Cerrone:
Conor McGregor is a name that is well known by both hardcore and casual fans alike. From humble beginnings in Crumlin, Ireland to Floyd Mayweather in one of the biggest PPV cards of all time, stopping along the way in Cage Warriors and the UFC. McGregor has held titles wherever he has gone, and in both Cage Warriors and the UFC he became each respective organisational champion at concurrent weights; or Champ-Champ as its now known.
He now approaches his fourth year without a win in MMA, that time being filled with a mega money bout with Mayweather as well as temporary retirement (twice) and a loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov. The latter was remembered more for the after-fight shenanigans than what happened in the octagon. For all Conor’s posturing, he was soundly beaten by the champion and a rematch looks a long way off, even with a win this weekend.
This marks his third fight at 170lbs, a division where he sits at 1-1 and its likely to be a brief stop in this weight class.
Donald Cerrone may just about be every hardcore fan’s favourite fighter. A long time WEC and UFC veteran, Cerrone is a legend of the sport and one who’s place in the UFC Hall of Fame is all but assured when he finally decides to leave his gloves in the octagon.
While he never quite made it to champion status, Cerrone won legions of fans with his anytime, anywhere and anyone approach to fighting. This is regardless of whether he thought he was overmatched or undersized but rarely out skilled.
Going into the fight all the major books have McGregor as an overwhelming favourite. However, his weaknesses play into Cerrone’s strengths, and vice versa. Historically Cerrone comes unstuck against lethal strikers, despite being no slouch in this area himself, and this has been shown time and again with the likes of Masvidal, Lawler, Till, Gaethje and Pettis. Similarly, McGregor struggles against those who have a solid ground game and are very comfortable off their back, see Khabib and particularly Nate Diaz.
This is a fight that goes one of two ways; either Conor cleanly strikes an ageing Cerrone and wins by KO, or Cerrone takes Conor down and secures the tap. I don’t see it going the distance and the odds on a win are poor enough for me to take a punt on round betting.
Recommendation: McGregor wins in Round 2 – 2 units at +310 (31/10) @ 5Dimes