McGregor vs Cerrone: Your Expert Tips and Preview

McGregor vs Cerrone marks Conor McGregor’s return to the Octagon after a 15-month layoff following his loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov. His opponent is UFC veteran Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone, who holds UFC records for most wins (21) and most finishes (15).

Betfair’s MMA expert, Gugabe, will be previewing the fight, providing in-depth analysis into each fighter and their styles before delivering his tip on the outcome of the fight.

You can follow Gugabe on Twitter here.

Current Odds

On the face of it, this fight’s simply going to come down to speed maps. Cerrone has a habit of getting jostled coming out of the traps, and Conor is nothing if not a hot starter. Cerrone going backwards is also hardly the man that he is coming forwards, and Conor is very effective at pushing fighters back onto the fence. There’s also the issue of Cerrone’s massive vulnerability to the body, and Conor is an effective body kicker which is something Cerrone has had numerous past issues with.

My policy for Cerrone fights is usually to wait out the first 4 minutes or so, as I feel that he tends to be a lot more effective as a fighter once he’s crossed that pivot. He’s only been KO’d once past the first round in his career, and that Masvidal fight probably should have been stopped after a 4:59 R1 knockdown that Cerrone was still badly compromised by in the second round.

Cerrone’s also something of a confidence fighter, with a multi-target game that is incredible going forward but a real lack of the defensive toolkit going backwards. He’s improved somewhat over the course of his incredibly-busy UFC career, adding a nice intercepting knee and a bit more footwork… but a backwards-moving Cerrone is not a happy Cerrone in this spot.

As this is the fight game, and we haven’t seen Conor in meaningful action for more than a year, there’s always the albatross overhead of Conor possibly rocking up and looking bombed out, depleted and shaky. As a result, I’d rather not touch Conor at his current 1.3~ pricepoint despite Cerrone playing perfectly into what Conor’s good at doing. It’s baseless speculation, but I’ll give it an arbitrary 10% that Conor’s ‘shot’ in this fight, which makes it hard to play him even if I think the baseline matchup is very favourable.

Conor’s also tended to have a notable size advantage in his more-successful featherweight career, where he was a gigantic featherweight who undertook life-threatening weight cuts to maximize that advantage. Cerrone is a gigantic Lightweight, with an 8CM height advantage and reach parity.

The fight is at Welterweight (An advantage for Cerrone who won’t have to deplete himself to the same degree), and I think there are question marks about how Conor deals with somebody who’s got size parity and doesn’t have to ‘crash the pocket’ in order to conduct business in striking. Conor’s success has historically been through setting up intercepting counters with his wild pressure game up against the fence, and Cerrone’s unlikely to go plunging on in there wildly.

Conor’s cardio and relative lack of grappling skill are also factors that give Cerrone clear win conditions in this fight. My belief is that Conor will likely be dominating this fight till he hits a hard pivot at around the end of the first round. If Cerrone can survive that long without taking major damage, he will probably take over down the stretch for a late finish.

The market will likely have pushed out even further in the meantime since Conor will be coming off success. Conor’s win percentage will fall off dramatically if the fight is given the opportunity to breathe, but I feel that Cerrone going down in the first exchanges is incredibly live.


Conor KO1

Betting Strategy

 BACK – 1.5 units Conor R1 at $3.00

 BACK – 1 unit Cerrone at $3.90 and adding an additional unit between rounds 1 & 2 if that bridge is crossed.

Claudia Gadelha v Alexa Grasso

We return to a legendary rivalry. Claudia Gadelha is 6-4 against her gas tank in the UFC thus far, and this figures to be a rematch of that exciting battle. However, Gadelha tends to struggle most of all with women who make her work, which possibly explains her only having cardio for 7 minutes at Women’s 115 pounds.

She’s an elite BJJer and wrestler, having outwrestled Carla Esparza with surprising ease (gas tank allowing), whilst Grasso was last seen being outwrestled by Esparza in a close contest. Her striking’s not incredible, but it’s functional, and I feel that she is being underrated.

Grasso’s a great boxer but has a glaring tendency to just play guard when taken down. She’s not especially urgent with forcing scrambles to return to her feet, and when she does scramble she has issues with ceding major positions to better grapplers.

As a result, there’s a great chance that this fight will involve a lot of Gadelha hanging out on top of Grasso’s guard, winning rounds and not being made to work especially hard.

It’s possible that she clips Gadelha to take advantage of a somewhat suspicious chin, but playing a fighter at evens who’s largely contingent on big moments of standing offense at W115 is illogical.


Gadelha by Decision

Betting Strategy

 BACK – 2.2u on Claudia Gadelha at $1.94

Aleksa Camur v Justin Ledet

I don’t really see a good reason for Aleksa Camur to be a favourite here aside from ‘shiny newcomer from TNC coming off a highlight against subpar opposition’ fever. Camur’s got some reasonable power, but I don’t like his lack of a workrate and the fact that his grappling is just a gigantic question mark at this point in time.

He’s 4 fights into his professional career, hasn’t fought anybody particularly relevant, and I didn’t find his TNC fight especially incredible before he hit the beautiful counter flying knee for the KO.

Justin Ledet’s on the other end of it. He’s coming off 2 losses in a row, having been completely atomized by Johnny Walker in a quick, kinda-irrelevant backfist KO and mauled by Alexander Rakic over 15 minutes. I don’t put huge stock into ultra-quick Kos, and we’ve all been laid low by Johnny Walker at some point.

Rakic is a top 5 Light Heavyweight, and I liked the durability, toughness and cardio that Ledet demonstrated in hanging in there. He’s got an immense reach, more than 200 centimeters of it, and a capable jab.

To be perfectly frank, Camur’s at that burgeoning point in his career where I don’t really have any particular confidence in his ability to deal with a frequent jab, being stuck on the outside and going against a fighter who’s classically been incredibly durable despite the Walker switch-off.

The fact that Ledet’s the dog here just seems silly to me, and Tuesday Night Contender alumni have frequently been overvalued by the market despite it not being a particularly relevant showcase.


Ledet by Decision

Betting Strategy

 BACK – 2u on Justin Ledet at $2.18

Askar Askarov v Tim Elliot

Askar Askarov is a great name. It doesn’t mess around. I’m usually very big on betting on strong, alliterative names in this sport, but unfortunately, I feel that Askarov’s on the wrong side of the ‘noodly guard player’ spectrum to win what should be a grappling match.

Tim Elliott’s the bigger man, has generally had strong topman tendencies, should have the cardio edge (based on Askarov suffering cardio death against Brandon Moreno) and should be busier on the feet.

I’m always happy to fade moments in favour of minute-winning tendencies, and I think this is a classic instance in which Elliott should clearly be winning the minutes and the rounds. Askarov will likely need big moments to pull back rounds, or possibly some sort of bizarre, jank submission as Elliott’s shown an ability to dive into them.

Nonetheless, I don’t think it makes sense to play a FLW who likely needs a finish or two+ near-finishes to win a fight as a favorite, so I’m happy to fade Askarov. Elliott should generally outhustle him in every phase, and I could easily see Askarov letting the fight get away from him with his frequent willingness to hang out under guard.


Elliott by Decision

Betting Strategy

 BACK – 2.5u on Tim Elliott at $2.20

Ode Osbourne v Brian Kelleher

Speaking of Tuesday Night Contender alumni being inexplicably loved by the markets, Ode Osbourne’s pretty much just as raw as Aleksa Camur as a fighter and against a proven quantity on a loss streak. My main criticism of Ode Osbourne is the lack of information, but every glimpse we’ve had of him going past the first round has been fairly discouraging.

He’s gassed in the two contests that I found tape on, and he has a shocking lack of takedown defense. Instead, if threatened with being grounded, he tends to try and fish for guard subs with little-to-no setup. He’s got some nice reach, but I just don’t see how he’s favorite on his UFC debut with a real lack of even semi-relevant regional competition.

Kelleher had a brief tenure at the bottom end of the UFC rankings, before coming up against Jon Lineker. His tactic of trying to Jon Lineker Jon Lineker was not a smart move, but he showed some nice power, shot diversity and durability before getting stopped in the third round of their insane brawl.

He was then stopped by Montel Jackson, local hyper-prospect, by fairly quick club & sub D’Arce Choke off a nasty elbow. I feel people are unfairly maligning Kelleher’s historically strong durability off these 2 results, as they were both massive impacts, along with assuming that Osbourne belongs in a tier of competition which he hasn’t really demonstrated.

Osbourne needs a first-round stoppage, in my opinion, since his cardio is questionable along with his striking defense to any form of attritional or volume-work. Kelleher’s classically been proficient at pouring on volume, and winning rounds effectively. I also feel that a Kelleher takedown at any point is likely a round won, as Osbourne seems incredibly reluctant to actually get up after being put down.

As a result, I don’t think favourite Osbourne makes any sense.


Kelleher by Decision

Betting Strategy

 BACK – 2u Brian Kelleher at $2.10

 BACK – 0.5u Kelleher Round 3 at $15

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